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Turks and Caicos Islands

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Politics and government of
the Turks and Caicos Islands



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Politics of the Turks and Caicos Islands takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic dependency, whereby as of August 9, 2006 the Premier is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. The islands are an internally self-governing overseas territory of the United Kingdom. The United Nations Committee on Decolonization includes the Turks and Caicos Islands on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Legislative Council. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. Military defence is the responsibility of the United Kingdom. The capital of the Turks and Caicos Islands is Cockburn Town on Grand Turk. The islands were under Jamaican jurisdiction until 1962, when they assumed the status of a crown colony. The governor of the Bahamas oversaw affairs from 1965 to 1973. With Bahamian independence, the islands received a separate governor in 1973. Although independence was agreed upon for 1982, the policy was reversed and the islands are presently a British overseas territory. The islands adopted a constitution on August 30, 1976, which is Constitution Day, the national holiday. The constitution was suspended in 1986, but restored and revised March 5, 1988. The territory's legal system is based on English common law, with a small number of laws adopted from Jamaica and the Bahamas. Suffrage is universal for those over 18 years of age. English is the official language. The death penalty was fully abolished on the Islands in 2002 when it was removed as a penalty for piracy and treason.[3]

On March 16, 2009 the Governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands, Gordon Wetherell, in a broadcast to the nation, announced that the constitution will be partially suspended for two years following receipt of the final Commission of Inquiry report into government corruption, which is due on or before April 30, 2009.

On March 24, 2009 Prime Minister of the Turks and Caicos Islands resigned as Britain prepares to take administrative control of the Caribbean territory. The Premier of the British dependency who has been at the centre of the corruption probe into the ruling elite, said in a statement he was resigning to give way to a unified government. In August 2009, the United Kingdom suspended the Turks and Caicos' self-government after allegations of ministerial corruption. The prerogative of the ministerial government and the House of Assembly are vested in the islands' incumbent governor, Gordon Wetherell, for a period of up to two years.[4]

Contents

Executive branch

Since the islands are a British territory, Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom is the sovereign and technically, head of state; the British Crown is represented by a governor.

The head of government is the premier. The cabinet consists of three ex officio members and five appointed by the governor from among the members of the House of Assembly:

  • Deputy Premier
  • Minister of Finance, National Insurance and Economic Planning
  • Minister of Housing, Agriculture, Workd and Telecommunication
  • Minister of Health and Human Services
  • Minister of Natural Resources, Fisheries, and The Environment
  • Minister of Home Affairs and Public Safety
  • Minister of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture
  • Minister of Tourism, Trade, Investment, and District Administration

No direct elections are held for the executive; the governor is officially appointed by the British monarch (in practice by the British Prime Minister). Legally, the premier is appointed to office by the governor - although under ordinary circumstances the premier will be (as are most parliamentary prime ministers) the head of the largest party in the House of Assembly.

In August 2009, the United Kingdom suspended the Turks and Caicos' self-government after allegations of ministerial corruption. The prerogative of the ministerial government, premier and the Legislative Council are vested in the islands' incumbent governor, Gordon Wetherell, for a period of up to two years.[5]

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
Queen Elizabeth II 6 February 1952
Governor Gordon Wetherell 5 August 2008
Premier Office suspended, powers delegated to Governor.[6][7]

Legislative branch

The House of Assembly has 19 members, 13 members elected for a four year term in single-seat constituencies, 3 members ex officio, 3 appointed members and a Speaker chosen from outside the council. In August 2009, the United Kingdom suspended the Turks and Caicos' self-government after allegations of ministerial corruption. The prerogative of the ministerial government and the House of Assembly are vested in the islands' incumbent governor, Gordon Wetherell, for a period of up to two years.[8]

Political parties and elections

The latest elections were held on 9 February 2007. The result was a landslide victory for the Progressive National Party, which won 13 of the 15 seats in the House of Assembly.

e • d  Summary of the 9 February 2007 Legislative Council of the Turks and Caicos Islands election results
Parties Votes % Seats +/-
Progressive National Party 3,558 59.7 13 +5
People's Democratic Movement 2,401 40.3 2 –3
Total (turnout  %) 5,959 100.0 15 +2
Source: TCI Free Press

Foreign relations

Turks and Caicos participates in the Caribbean Development Bank, is an associate in Caricom, and maintains an Interpol sub-bureau. Defence is the responsibility of the United Kingdom. In December 2004, the Turks and Caicos Islands sought to become a new associate member to the Association of Caribbean States.[9]

See also

References

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