The April 28 arrest of former premier Andrew Fahie in Miami on drug-related charges is a dramatic development in the Commission of Inquiry saga that has kept the territory on edge for many months.

The arrest was sheer coincidence, according to Governor John Rankin, who claimed it was a separate matter from the COI. There is a direct link, however. The premier’s arrest precipitated events that have led to the immediate release of the COI report to the public.

Mr. Fahie is accused of working with the BVI Ports Authority managing director in an attempt to facilitate the importation of narcotics into the United States, using the VI as a type of staging post. The arrest was the result of months of work by the US Drug Enforcement Administration, probably with the aid of other supporting agencies.

 

‘Agent of change?’

Now, the COI report is today available for all to see. Will it be an agent of change or a damp squib?

UK officials initiated the COI. They conducted the investigation; arrived at their conclusions; drafted the final report; and placed their mark on the findings and recommendations.

The VI remains an overseas territory of the United Kingdom. The UK Cabinet has the last say on the decisions, outcomes and execution of the commissions’ findings, recommendations and report. That is the reality.

A key recommendation is that the VI Constitution be suspended and direct rule be introduced until mechanisms are put in place to avoid a repeat of matters that led to the COI.

 

‘Two possible outcomes’

A closer look at what the governor stated on April 29 will reveal that there are just two possible outcomes of the report after his consultations with officials and the public.

The first possible outcome is that the UK would step in and rule directly following a partial suspension of the Constitution. General elections would be put on hold until the UK puts in place new mechanisms that ensure no repeat of the matters that got the territory to this difficult place.

Meanwhile, the governor would rule with the assistance of an advisory council. That intervention could take two years or more. That is the most likely outcome after the governor’s press statement of April 29.

The second possible outcome is that the UK would not implement direct rule, but criminal charges would nevertheless be brought against specific officials. Then these officials would be arrested and charged for allegations made against them in the normal way of a criminal investigation. Then elections would be held, with indicted officials suspended from running for office indefinitely. This is the least likely outcome.

 

New government

Events move swiftly. Last Thursday, a new premier, Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley, was sworn in, and a “national unity government” made up of cross-party politicians came into existence with the sole purpose of averting a UK takeover of the territory through the rapid implementation of the COI recommendations.

Dr. Wheatley is an honest, humble and bright man with a calm disposition. This writer hopes the UK Cabinet offers him a chance to get the house in order.

The present crisis was a necessary catharsis for an overseas territory with a high degree of self- governance. This tiny territory has taken honest governance for granted and possessed a “ruling clique” that has placed impunity on a pedestal.

 

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