Junior Minister for Trade and Economic Development Shereen Flax-Charles announced her resignation from the Virgin Islands Party on Feb. 12, but she said she still plans to run in the coming general election. (File photo: DANA KAMPA)

Junior Minister for Trade and Economic Development Shereen Flax-Charles has thrown an early wild card into the line-up of candidates for the coming general election, tendering her resignation from the Virgin Islands Party on Feb. 12 but declaring that she still plans to run.

Ms. Flax-Charles announced her departure in a Facebook post, stating that she was grateful for the support of her colleagues as she began her tenure as an at-large representative in 2019 in a “trial by fire.”

Concerning her decision to run for re-election, she said, “There is so much more that needs to be done to maintain and secure these Virgin Islands to ensure that our children see brighter days than we ever did.”

Though both she and the VIP said there were no hard feelings about the parting, she left amid an argument over whether she properly filed her paperwork to seek the in-party vote to run again.

“While I am grateful for both the triumphs and the obstacles which I encountered along the way, it is clear to me that at this stage I must part ways with the Virgin Islands Party,” she continued.

Paperwork spat

The VIP rolled out its preliminary list of 10 candidates on Feb. 5 following an internal party vote. Members put forward a mix of incumbents and a few new names, with Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley continuing to lead the party in the role of chairman.

Ms. Flax-Charles was not on the list, and Dr. Wheatley said she “did not complete her paperwork properly” to meet the conditions for declaring candidacy per the party’s constitution. However, he added, the paperwork could still be completed before the VIP’s next meeting to fill the remaining three slots on its ticket. But Ms. Flax-Charles told a different story in her Feb. 12 post.

“I fulfilled the basic requirements as outlined in Section Four [of the party constitution], and made my intention known to the party’s secretary,” she said.

She added that no deadline for informing the executive of her intention to run for re-election as an incumbent was communicated to her.

“Anyone interested in further investigating this exercise of wordplay and paperwork is free to peruse the party’s constitution,” she said. “There will be varied opinions as there always are, but what I can share is that my interpretation is supported by a senior party member’s written correspondence.”

She added, “Whatever clerical mishaps and misunderstandings may have occurred, I hold no animosity towards my former party as this only reassured me of what I have been considering for a time.”

VIP response

The VIP issued a response shortly after her Feb. 12 announcement.

“Contrary to what was stated in the press release by Hon. Flax-Charles, the party maintains that the paperwork submitted did not satisfy the requirements,” according to the statement. “Hon. Flax-Charles received written correspondence of what needed to be rectified, and to date has made no attempts to do so.”

The party thanked her for her service and wished her well in her future endeavours.

New party?

Ms. Flax-Charles said in her Facebook post that she has been asked whether she would run with another party, but she didn’t answer the question.

“Wherever I cast my lot, understand that it is because all on board understand my role is a selfless one,” she said, adding, “My priorities are clear and have been communicated. I will only be part of a leadership that is transparent, fair and honest, conducted with the utmost integrity, developing and honouring structures which hold us to account.”

The general election is due by May 12, and Dr. Wheatley said this month that a date would be announced soon.