British Virgin Islands Set Elections for April 24th
ROAD TOWN, British Virgin Islands – Governor John Rankin has signed the proclamation to pave the way for residents of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) to vote for a new government on April 24, a few weeks before the polls are constitutionally due.
Advance polling will be held on April 21.
The election announcement was anticipated with the House of Assembly being dissolved on March 10 and Section 86 of the Virgin Islands Constitution stating that “a general election shall be held at such time within two months but not earlier than 21 days of the dissolution of the House of Assembly”.
General elections are constitutionally due by mid-May.
Dr. Natalio Wheatley, who took over as premier after Andrew Fahie was arrested in Miami in April last year for alleged drug smuggling and money laundering, said his Virgin Islands Party (VIP) had most of its candidates in place.
In the last general elections held on February 25, 2019, the VIP won eight seats in the 13-seat House of Assembly which comprises nine electoral district representatives and four territorial-at-large representatives. However, with Fahie’s arrest, that number was reduced to seven.
The party also suffered an additional setback recently with a member defecting to the Progressive Virgin Islands Movement (PVIM).
In addition to the VIP and PVIM, two other political parties have expressed interest in contesting the polls to win the reins of government for the next four years – the National Democratic Party (NDP) and the Progressives United (PU).
Premier Wheatley said recently that the VIP has so far ratified 10 candidates – including seven district candidates and three territorial at-large candidates – and he remained confident the party would be returned to power.
“We have been able to steady the ship, we have improved our relationship with the United Kingdom and, of course, we have been able to implement recommendations and the United Kingdom has expressed their pleasure of the progress even though there are areas we have to improve upon,” he said.
“But generally they are pleased with the progress and of course people of the British Virgin Islands are pleased with the progressed made so far and correcting things in our governance.”
Last year, the British government decided not to impose direct rule on the BVI, despite a report finding gross failures of governance in the territory. Instead, Wheatley’s administration has been allowed to implement several reforms.