The report of the Commission of Inquiry stands between normal and abnormal. Consequently, there is no certainty with today’s governance. The “tea leaves” are impossible to read presently. And there can be no clear path into the future until the COI report is published.
Meanwhile, the premier has made clear that there will be no general election before the report.
That likely means elections sometime in 2023. Then there is a caveat. The holding of a general election is determined by what the COI report states and the actions of the governor as the Queen’s representative in deciding how to respond to the report’s findings.
The governor remains the constitutional head of state in the Virgin Islands — although the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and local governors traditionally have been wary of interfering with the local politics of the overseas territories.
‘A storm brewing?’
The preceding are the factors that will determine the shape of the next VI government.
Is there a storm brewing? No one can tell.
Will the UK step in and suspend the Constitution owing to findings of the Commission of Inquiry? Will there be prosecutions of high officials?
Someone informed this writer that UK intervention is unlikely because there has been no “smoking gun.” However, even that is a subjective assertion. No one knows the content of the COI report and its repercussions for the Virgin Islands.
There are various scenarios, from UK intervention of the most direct type owing to COI findings that are indeed serious, to a closing of the file and normality if nothing truly illegal is discovered.
A volatile time
One thing is probable: The next few months will be volatile and unpredictable for VI politics.
How will the COI report impact election results if elections are held?
Will the report implicate any officials? And if these are elected officials, will they be eligible to run for office?
And if the UK does step in — the Turks and Caicos Island model — how will the territory be managed until a return to self-governance?
These are the questions we all have as we contemplate the future of these islands in paradise.
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