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VIP moves to replace Fraser as opposition leader

 VIP Chairman Andrew Fahie (left) and President Dr Natalio Wheatley

VIP Chairman Andrew Fahie (left) and President Dr Natalio Wheatley

The executive of the Opposition Virgin Islands Party (VIP) is seeking to have the party’s recently elected Chairman Andrew Fahie replace Julian Fraser as Leader of the Opposition.

This is the second attempt that is being made to have Fahie become Leader of the Opposition since the party’s defeat in the 2015 general election.

Governor John Duncan, in 2015, was forced to decide which of the two should occupy the constitutional post of Leader of the Opposition.

He eventually selected Fraser on the basis that – among other things – Fraser was the then Chairman of the VIP.

Fraser however lost the chairmanship to Fahie during an internal election held in November last year.

Immediately after his victory, Fahie told the press that, in the interest of unity, he would not be rushing to become Leader of the Opposition. “The Opposition leader is something outside my pay scale; that’s something the [Virgin Islands] Constitution deals with, with the governor. So I wouldn’t be running behind of that to create any confusion; that’s not in my nature,” Fahie had told the press.

But, in a media release this evening (January 17), VIP President Dr Natalio ‘Sowande’ Wheatley stated that he has written to Governor Duncan in an attempt to have Fahie appointed Leader of the Opposition, notwithstanding what Fahie had told the press.

Dr Wheatley further indicated that Fahie’s victory in the VIP election should be one basis on which to appoint him Leader of the Opposition.

Dr Wheatley added that there is no truth to claims that there is any fight for the constitutional post, adding that the current Leader of the Opposition (Fraser) does not communicate effectively with party’s executive.

“As far as the party is concerned, the decision on who would lead the Opposition or become Premier was made on November 30th 2016. Reliance on improper unilateral decisions of 2014, and from the past cannot be the basis for moving forward.”

“On December 9th 2016, I informed the Governor of the results of the November 30th, 2016 election. On December 19th, 2016 the VIP Chairman sought to gain the acceptance of the former Chairman regarding his intention to abide by the Constitution of the party and the decision of Congress and seek the position of Leader of the Opposition, notwithstanding his earlier announcement,” Dr Wheatley explained.

“The communication level between the past VIP chairman (Fraser) and the Executive Committee seems to be extremely low to non-existent, and comes at a time when the policies and decisions of the Virgin Islands Party must be represented in the House of Assembly by the Chairman.”

Dr Wheatley further stated that both Fahie and Fraser ‘must’ abide by the decisions of the VIP.

The full statement from the VIP president, Dr Wheatley, is POSTED BELOW:

statementHonorable Andrew Fahie and Honorable Julian Fraser RA are both members of the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) and, therefore, must abide by the decisions of the party.

On November 30th 2016 the Congress, which is the highest decision making body of the party overwhelmingly supported Honorable Fahie for the position of Chairman of the Virgin Islands Party.

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. This position was confirmed by His Excellency the Governor who in his pronouncement in 2015, amongst other considerations, relied on the seniority of the post of Party Chairman to determine the holder of the post of Opposition Leader.

Despite Honorable Fahie’s stated discomfort with the perception of “fighting for power,” I, as President of the party, insisted that we abide by the statutes of our Constitution, and I received the backing of the Executive Committee Administrative Arm of the party.

Party members placing their individual desires above the needs of the party must never be a condition for unity and sets a dangerous precedent.

Given these facts, it is reasonable to conclude that there is not a “fight for power” within the Virgin Islands Party; rather there is a struggle for all members to submit to the leadership of the party.

As far as the party is concerned, the decision on who would lead the Opposition or become Premier was made on November 30th 2016. Reliance on improper unilateral decisions of 2014 and from the past cannot be the basis for moving forward.

On December 9th 2016, I informed the Governor of the results of the November 30th, 2016 election. On December 19th, 2016 the VIP Chairman sought to gain the acceptance of the former Chairman regarding his intention to abide by the Constitution of the party and the decision of Congress and seek the position of Leader of the Opposition, notwithstanding his earlier announcement.

The communication level between the past-chairman and the Executive Committee seems to be extremely low to nonexistence and comes at a time when the policies and decisions of the Virgin Islands Party must be represented in the House of Assembly by the Chairman.

Failing concurrence, it is now within the powers of the Governor to make a decision. Let us not allow this matter to distract from the work that the opposition and, we, the people, must engage in, which is holding our government accountable and demanding good governance.

Those who seek to shift the focus of the people from the pertinent matters of the day are indeed working against the interests of the people and their true intention shall be known for what it is.

Forward Ever! Backwards Never!

Dr. Natalio Wheatley

President, Virgin Islands Party

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