The court of appeal in London is considering a last minute application from the former prime minister of Turks and Caicos, Michael Misick, to stop the imposition of direct rule by Britain. The British government is poised to suspend the islands constitution and government for two years following allegations of “systemic corruption against the ruling political elite.” Misick has been accused of amassing a multimillion-dollar fortune, financed through questionable dealings that gave property developers access to crown-owned land. Under the direct rule plan the British governor, Gordon Wetherell, would assume power from the islands’ assembly and courts, suspending the right of trial by jury for high-profile individuals implicated in corruption. He would be supported by a handful of Foreign Office officials, and advised by two groups of “belongers”, as residents of the islands are known – a more powerful advisory council and a consultative forum. Both would be appointed by Wetherell. The proposed imposition of direct rule has been called by critics in T&C “a return to colonial rule.” Prime Minister Galmo Williams attempted last week to call for elections in October but the call was rejected by the Governor.
T&C is a British Overseas Territory that has been moving towards full independence since the 1970s.The takeover, which could have taken place as early as tomorrow, will now be delayed until quite possibly the end of June.
Photo: AP [Turks and Caicos’ Governor Gordon Wetherell, center, and a medical expert get off a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter after being flown to Grand Turk Island, in the Turks & Caicos Islands, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008. A small Coast Guard helicopter detachment is deployed to help out Turks and Caicos in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike.]