Britain suspends government in overseas territory

Yesterday the United Kingdom imposed direct rule on the Turks and Caicos Islands after former premier Michael Misick’s last legal appeal failed.

The Caribbean islands’ administration has been suspended for up to two years and power has been transferred to the British-appointed governor, with the United Kingdom also stationing a supply vessel in between Turks and Caicos.

Politicians were accused of selling crown land for personal gain and misusing public funds. Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Chris Bryant said the decision to impose rule was “a serious constitutional step which [the government] has not taken lightly,” but that the measures were “essential in order to restore good governance and sound financial management.”

The move was met with vehement opposition by the Turks and Caicos government, with Misick’s successor Williams calling it a “coup”, and stating that, “Our country is being invaded and re-colonised by the United Kingdom, dismantling a duly elected government and legislature and replacing it with a one-man dictatorship, akin to that of the old Red China, all in the name of good governance.” Despite this, the civilian populace was reported to be largely welcoming of the enforced rule.

The British government stated that they intended to keep true to their word that the country would regain sovereignty in two years or less, and Foreign Office Minister Chris Bryant said that elections would be held in 2011.

The new British governor, Gordon Wetherell, stated that he would aim to “make a clean break from the mistakes of the past” and create “a durable path towards good governance, sound financial management and sustainable development”. Wetherell continued to say that, “In the meantime we must all learn to foster a quality of public spirit, listen to all those who have the long-term interests of these islands at heart, and safeguard the fundamental assets of the Territory for future generations… Our guiding principles will be those of transparency, accountability and responsibility. I believe that most people in the Turks and Caicos will welcome these changes.”

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