The debate between leaders of the local political parties has been cancelled.
Member of the organising committee Eustace ‘Boss’ Freeman said on Tuesday that the debate was cancelled because of ‘circumstances beyond the committee’s control’. He did not go into detail.
The cancellation follows a media release from the Andrew Fahie-led Virgin Islands Party that they will not participate in the debate if ALL political leaders don’t come forward. There are four known political parties contesting the 2019 General Elections.
PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED: Fahie not participating in debate if ALL party leaders don’t confirm
Virgin Islands Party (VIP) chairman Andrew Fahie might not be participating in the debate with leaders of the respective political parties on February 21, contrary to previous reports.
Organising member of the leaders’ debate committee, Eustace ‘Boss’ Freeman, told BVI News last Friday that Fahie was one of two leaders who had already confirmed their participation in the debate. But according to a media release from the VIP on Tuesday (February 12), Fahie is only willing to debate if all political leaders participate.
The VIP said this was made clear to the debate organising committee from the outset.
“As it stands now, we have been informed that not all the leaders will be there. A clear condition for the event is therefore not being met … We stand ready to join a debate – even at short notice – should the preparation and organization for it, meet the standards that we have had discussed,” the Fahie-led party said.
“We, however, thought that it was unfortunate, that our name was being attached to the event promoted when the fundamental conditionality was not met,” the VIP added.
We want genuine debate, not ‘circus’
In explaining their position further, the VIP said they are only interested in having “a genuine debate” and suggested that such a debate can only be achieved once all political leaders participate.
It further suggested that a debate that does not involve all leaders reduces the event “to a circus, [which] will do a disservice to the electorate”.
“We appreciate that the organizers have been working tirelessly to ensure that everyone would have come forward to explain and defend their policy ideas,” the VIP added.
There are four known political parties contesting these 2019 general elections — the VIP, Ronnie Skelton-led Progressive Virgin Islands Movement (PVIM), the Myron Walwyn-led National Democratic Party (NDP), and the Julian Fraser-led Progressives United.
Based on the VIP’s argument and considering that as recently as last Friday, Fraser — according to debate organisers — had outrightly declined to participate in the debate, Fahie will not be participating after all. Organisers also said at the time that Walwyn of the NDP has accepted the invitation to debate while Skelton of the PVIM had not yet confirmed his participation.
Below is the full media release from the VIP
The Virgin Islands Party has noted that a debate, suggesting the involvement of our leader Andrew Fahie is being promoted through various medium.
Discussions about the proposed debate have been going on for a period of time with agents of the party representing our Chairman. The VIP has been eager for a debate – and in fact, had even proposed additional debates involving each candidate at the district level. For the record, we had also provisionally agreed to a debate among the leaders, once the leaders of all the other major parties were willing to come to the table.
Our team has been preparing for the event on the assumption that all the leaders of all the parties were willing to do so. We appreciate that the organizers have been working tirelessly to ensure that everyone would have come forward to explain and defend their policy ideas. As it stands now, we have been informed that not all the leaders will be there – a clear condition for the event is therefore not being met. We want a genuine debate, and a thrashing out of ideas for national development.
But having such an event reduced to a circus will do a disservice to the electorate. We stand ready to join a debate – even at short notice – should the preparation and organization for it, meet the standards that we have had discussed. We, however, thought that it was unfortunate, that our name was being attached to the event promoted when the fundamental conditionality was not met.
Our chairman Andrew Fahie, has proven, through his performance in the House of Assembly over the last four years, his capacity to understand the facts, to expose the lies, and to almost single-handedly take on a cabal bent on disrespect and not levelling with the people. The VIP has the strongest message of this campaign.
Our vision for growing the economy, improving the quality of governance and empowering people is the most compelling. We are eager to get this out to every person in the territory. The VIP is also eager to expose the marginalization of people over the last eight years – particularly the last four. In the remaining days of the campaign, we will use every platform and engage people everywhere as we spread the message of change and renewal.