UK assumes direct rule over the Turks and Caicos Islands

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The two islands are located in the Caribbean and have a population of 30,000

The Government of the United Kingdom has assumed direct rule over the Turks and Caicos Islands in the Caribbean, after an enquiry discovered what it alleges to be corruption and "serious dishonesty" at the highest levels. The islands' administration and Premier have been suspended for up to two years and their powers transferred to the UK-appointed Governor.

The British Government has taken the unusual step because it alleges that former Premier Michael Misick and members of his cabinet have enriched themselves through the selling of crown land and other corrupt practices, and that the limits to suffrage in the islands make it impossible to form a jury immune to the influence of the accused.

"This is a serious constitutional step which the UK government has not taken lightly, but these measures are essential in order to restore good governance and sound financial management", said the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Chris Bryant.

However the reaction by the local government have been hostile, with the action being described as a "coup" by deposed Premier Galmo Williams. He told the BBC, "A coup is anything that has been done without the will of the people and being a colony anything the British government wants to do to us they can do to us."

The Turks and Caicos Islands have been British overseas territories since 1799, and since achieving self-governance in 1976 have significantly developed offshore banking and tourism industries.

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