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Fraser fires back: Governor can’t remove me!

Julian Fraser. File photo

Julian Fraser. File photo

Julian Fraser has claimed that the Opposition Virgin Islands Party (VIP) is still fragmented, adding that no governor can remove him as Leader of the Opposition.

He indicated that, contrary to what VIP President Dr Natalio ‘Sowande’ Wheatley suggested in a press release last evening, the governor only has the power to appoint – not to remove the Leader of the Opposition.

Fraser also described Dr Wheatley’s press release as being riddled with falsehoods, and fraught with presumptions.

Another of the ‘falsehoods’ in the release, Fraser said, is the suggestion that delegates of the VIP automatically wanted Andrew Fahie to be Leader of the Opposition, when they recently elected him (Fahie) to serve as Chairman of the VIP.

Fraser noted that there is a clear difference between the VIP chairmanship and the constitutional post of Leader of the Opposition.

He added that the Leader of the Opposition is not selected by party delegates, but by the Opposition members elected to serve in the House of Assembly.

However, there has been a stalemate as only two elected Opposition members are now in the House.

Governor John Duncan was asked to break that stalemate shortly after the general election in 2015.

At the time, the governor chose Fraser over Fahie to serve as Leader of the Opposition.

Now, executive members of the VIP are asking the governor to remove Fraser and replace him with their newly elected party chairman, Fahie.

Fraser, in a response to the latest attempt against him, declared: “Petitioning a Governor to remove and replace a sitting Leader of the Opposition by a political party has no basis in the Virgin Islands Constitution Order 2007. The only provision that is constitutionally within the governor’s remit is Section 70 (2) (a): ‘The Governor shall appoint as Leader of the Opposition, a member of the House of Assembly recommended by a majority of the elected members of the House who are members of any Opposition party whose numerical strength in the House is greater than that of any other opposition party,” Fraser said.

He continued: “Note: ‘Opposition party’ means a group of members of the House of Assembly in opposition to the Government who are prepared to support one of their number as their leader. The Governor has no role to play in this matter, and he knows that I know that. It is ludicrous for anyone to expect the Governor to be guided by a local party’s internal politics.”

Julian Fraser’s full response to the press release issued last evening by VIP president Dr Natalio Wheatley is posted below:

statement

At the time of Elections to the Executive on November 30th 2016, I implored the Delegates to make winning the next General Election their goal, rather than winning the Chairmanship.

I further went on to tell them that, depending on their choice for Chairman, the Party can fragment, thus diminishing any chance at a General Election victory.

Well, in the end, as it turned out, the Delegates did what they went to the Congress to do.

Ever since the [VIP] elections of November 30th, I’ve watched from a distance that very fragmentation I spoke of unfold, with charges of a rigged election, and a letter sent to the Governor seeking to have me replaced as Leader of the Opposition – in just nine days after the New Chairman (Andrew Fahie) publicly stated that he was not going to pursue the leadership of the Opposition.

All this time, I considered it destructive to the Party, should I get involved.

Today, I have decided to end my silence after seeing a Press Release by the Party that is riddled with falsehoods, and fraught with presumptions.

First: To state that “the Constitution of the VIP makes it clear that the Chairman of the party shall be the Titular Head of the Party and will lead the party within the House of Assembly”, is inaccurate.

The VIP Constitution instead states, ‘Chairman of the Party (Will be the titular head/political leader of the Party and serve as Chief Minister, if so elected to the Legislative Council’. It does not presume a post while in the Opposition.

And besides, where was this logic when in June of 2015 after the General Election the Party’s position was the exact opposite.

Second: To state, “As far as the party is concerned, the decision on who would lead the Opposition or become Premier was made on November 30th 2016”, shows a severe lack of depth in the Virgin Islands Parliamentary Democratic System of Government.

Parties don’t decide who is or who isn’t the Premier or the Leader of the Opposition; Elected Members do.

That same flawed thought resulted in shameful embarrassment coming out of the General Elections of June 2015.

Petitioning a Governor to remove and replace a sitting Leader of the Opposition by a political Party has no basis in the Virgin Islands Constitution Order 2007.

The only provision that is Constitutionally within the Governor’s remit is Section 70 (2) (a): ‘The Governor shall appoint as Leader of the Opposition, a member of the House of Assembly recommended by a majority of the elected members of the House who are members of any opposition party whose numerical strength in the House is greater than that of any other opposition party.

Note: ‘Opposition party’ means a group of members of the House of Assembly in opposition to the Government who are prepared to support one of their number as their leader.

The Governor has no role to play in this matter, and he knows that I know that.

It is ludicrous for anyone to expect the Governor to be guided by a local party’s internal politics.

Hon. Julian Fraser RA

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