The Premier and Government of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) have expressed “sincere thanks” to Saint Lucia’s Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre, for his forthright stance in support of the BVI’s interim administration and opposition to threats of direct British rule, following the arrest of the former Premier in a sting operation coordinated by the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
Britain’s immediate reaction included publication of a long-delayed Commission of Inquiry Report that led to a threat by Foreign Secretary Liz Trust to suspend the island’s constitution and impose direct rule from London for two years.
The threat of a return to direct rule from London was roundly rejected by CARICOM and OECS leaders as an inappropriate approach and the region’s position was crystalized by Prime Minister Pierre during the United Nations (UN) Pacific Regional Seminar hosted by Saint Lucia in May.
Premier and Minister of Finance Dr. Hon. Natalio D. Wheatley, on behalf of the government and people of the BVI, also thanked Saint Lucia for its support at last month’s meeting of the UN Special Committee on Decolonization (C-24), where the BVI issue was also discussed.
In a special letter to PM Pierre dated 30th June 2022, Premier Dr. Wheatley, “on behalf of the Government of National Unity and the people of the British Virgin Islands,” sincerely thanked him and the Government of Saint Lucia, “for your staunch support of the British Virgin Islands.”
He also thanked PM Pierre “for your very strong statement against imposing direct rule on the people of the Territory at the UN Seminar, which was superbly hosted by your government.”
According to Premier Wheatley, “Your timely intervention directly affected the United Kingdom’s decision to alternatively allow the Government of National Unity to implement reforms under continued democratic governance.”
He was also grateful for “Saint Lucia’s strong support” at the UN Special Committee meeting, “where a robust draft resolution on the Question of the British Virgin Islands was adopted.”
The BVI Premier said that during his participation in the C-24 session in New York, “I had an excellent meeting with your Permanent Representative to the UN Menissa Rambally” and he was also “most grateful for her encouragement and support.”
He also reiterated that Saint Lucia’s support “greatly assisted the British Virgin Islands during our recent crisis.”
Premier Dr Wheatley said he and his government “look forward to us developing even stronger ties between the British Virgin Islands and Saint Lucia.”
According to the BVI Premier, “While it is an ongoing concern to us that the United Kingdom Government is holding an Order in Council in reserve to suspend the British Virgin Islands’ constitution if it assesses that satisfactory progress on reform is not being made, the Government of National Unity is forging ahead with our reform agenda to build the Territory into a model democracy.”