Months after being voted out as Chairman of the Opposition Virgin Islands Party (VIP), Julian Fraser suffered another blow when he was replaced officially today as Leader of the Opposition.
His arch rival, Andrew Fahie, is now the holder of both positions.
Governor John Duncan appointed Fahie Leader of the Opposition this morning, February 6.
It is not clear if Fraser was pushed to vacate the constitutional post, which he had expressed reluctance to vacate. He also had argued that the governor has no power under the constitution to replace him – only to appoint.
When asked if Fraser stepped down voluntarily or was forced out by the governor, Fahie told BVI News Online: “He (the governor) gave me an appointment letter.”
In a press statement, Fahie also announced: “On February 6th, 2017 – together with other considerations – as the new Chairman and Political Leader of the Virgin Islands Party, I was appointed by His Excellency the Governor as Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. With God, all things are possible…”
“I thank the governor for the discharge of his duties as outlined in the Constitution, and I pledge to work amicably with him in the discharge of my duties as Leader of the Opposition,” added Fahie.
He further expressed a willingness to work with his predecessor, Fraser.
“Kind words of friendship and sincere words of unity are extended to the immediate past Chairman [of the VIP] and Member of the Third District Honourable Julian Fraser, RA. I am convinced that together we will achieve more,” Fahie said.
This is the second time since the VIP lost the 2015 general election that Fahie and Fraser have had a public standoff over which of them should be appointed Leader of the Opposition. On the first occasion, the governor appointed Fraser who – at the time – was still chairman of the VIP.
Fahie is now stating that the governor appointed him Leader of the Opposition because – among other reasons – he is now chairman of the VIP.
Under the Virgin Islands Constitution, there is no link between the Leader of the Opposition post and the chairmanship of any political party.
Fahie, in the meantime, today said he is cognizant of the mammoth task that lies ahead as he becomes Leader of the Opposition.
“As I assume the post of Leader of the Opposition, I am keenly aware of the mammoth task that lies immediately ahead of the territory… Each of the documents – The Virgin Islands Constitutional Order 2007, The Protocols for Effective Financial Management, The Financial Management Act 2004, The Standing Orders of the House of Assembly and indeed other documents – each direct the duties and responsibilities of this office,” he said.
Fahie further stated that there is much work to be done as he will conduct a full assessment of the Opposition.
“I would take advice and conduct a full assessment of where we are as an Opposition, where we need to be as an Opposition, and how best to get there. In short, there is a great deal of work to be done.”
Perfectly clear: We’ll hold gov’t accountable
The newly appointed Leader of the Opposition, in the meantime, underscored the need to “solicit the views of the public and to have such views and goals properly represented in the House of Assembly”.
He promised to hold the government accountable.
“Let us be perfectly clear, it is also the duty of the opposition to ensure that Government adheres to the guidelines and sound principles of accountability, transparency, and good governance. Maximizing the value received for monies expended should not be a fleeting thought nor must it be viewed as a non-attainable goal. We must manage our public expenditure effectively.”
Fraser also noted the need for collaboration between the government and Opposition when in the best interest of the territory.
“At this stage of our development and with the many challenges that lie ahead of us, it is incumbent on both Government and Opposition to work together to improve and maximize the potentials of the economic pillars of tourism and financial services; work together to explore those illusive third and fourth pillars of farming and fishing; work together to effectively and with compassion align expenditure with realistic forecasted income; and work together to effect the best educated and most highly trained citizens at every level – save none,” added the newly appointed Leader of the Opposition.
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