TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands – The governing Virgin Islands Party (VIP), is now in the process of appointing a new Premier and the members have so far thrown their support behind Deputy Premier, Dr Natalio Wheatley who made the announcement late Saturday.
This development comes as Premier Andrew Fahie remains detained in the United States on drug and money laundering charges.
Wheatley, a first-term legislator said the congress of the VIP has already unanimously appointed him as chairman of the political organization.
“Efforts are underway to seek the resignation of Honorable Andrew A. Fahie as Premier of the Virgin Islands as this would facilitate the smooth advancement of the process,” Wheatley during a public broadcast on Saturday night.
“I have never contemplated that the responsibility of the leadership of the Virgin Islands would come so soon under such circumstances. But I have been asked to lead and I rise to the call along with the rest of our team in the government who remain committed to the development of the Virgin Islands and the improvement of the quality of life for all our Virgin Islands and residents. These are demanding times for leadership and government but through the sum total of my education, training, and life experiences, I am confident in my preparedness to lead the Virgin Islands at this time along with my colleagues,” he added.
However, Wheatley must be appointed by Governor John Rankin, but this could be a challenge as the British Overseas territory could be placed under the direct rule of the United Kingdom.
UK direct rule was one of the chief recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry report released to the public on Friday.
If imposed, direct rule would see Rankin assuming the responsibilities of the elected government; something that was done in another British Overseas Territory, the Turks and Caicos Islands, after the conclusion of their Commission of Inquiry in 2009.
Meanwhile – High-level meetings are now scheduled to be held with the UK Minister for Overseas Territories, Amanda Milling on Monday, to discuss the issue of direct rule and other recommendations as outlined in the report from the Commission of Inquiry.