By Davion Smith, BVI News Staff
Political chatter has permeated the British Virgin Islands following the recent upset within the National Democratic Party (NDP) government, and there are now recurring questions of whether the party is still capable of doing the job they were elected to do nearly four years ago.
Premier Dr D Orlando Smith has responded to those questions with a resounding ‘yes’.
“The departure of colleagues to the Opposition bench does not impact our ability to govern. We retain a majority in the House of Assembly,” Dr Smith said while referring to defector NDP legislators Ronnie Skelton, Archibald Christian, and Melvin ‘Mitch’ Turnbull, all of whom reportedly colluded to form their own political movement.
Their departure — which has come in the form of dismissals from their ministerial posts (except for Turnbull who elected to sit over the side of the Opposition) — is not in the least uncommon in the business of politics, the premier said in a statement Monday evening.
“Politicians come and go. Ministers come and go. Governments come and go. Indeed, my own time as leader of this party soon draws to an end. But the vision – that is what endures. If it is sound and true – then it outlasts us all,” said the 74-year-old politician who has since promoted three of his junior legislators to the ministerial posts that became vacant.
Premier Smith has branded those new appointments as a “reshuffle” of his administration.
“The important business of governing this territory has not and will not be adversely affected … We will be fine. The people of this territory have gone through far worse and have endured,” he said.
The NDP ‘vision’
In the meantime, the ‘vision’ Dr Smith had mentioned earlier was in reference to the NDP’s mission, which he claimed was to “invest smartly and strategically in order to secure a proud, prosperous future for the BVI”.
Be that as it may, the three NDP defectors (Skelton, Turnbull, and Christian) have all, in some way, suggested that the NDP has sullied the party’s integrity in trying to actualise that vision.
That, the defectors claim, is their reason for breaking away from the party and aligning with the newly-formed Progressive Virgin Islands Movement (PVIM), which is reported to be led by Skelton.
In the same breath, however, Skelton and Turnbull have also faced criticism that they only formed the PVIM because they both lost in their bid to lead the NDP. Turnbull has refuted that claim.
Governor Augustus Jaspert announced days ago that the next General Election must happen by April 2019. At least four political organisations are expected to present candidates to contest the 13 electoral seats — the Myron Walwyn-led NDP, the Skelton-led PVIM, the Andrew Fahie-led VIP, and the newly-formed Julian Fraser-led Progressive United.
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