The British Foreign Office minister, Henry Bellingham, announced yesterday that Turks and Caicos’ elections set for July 2011 would be delayed to allow for anti-corruption measures and government reforms to take effect, sparking protests and increasing tensions on the Caribbean island. Britain’s direct rule on the islands began in August 2009 after a probe into allegations of misuse of public funds and improper sale of government owned land found “urgent and wide-ranging systemic change” was necessary on the islands.
Following the dismissal of the local government and legislature, Britain appointed Gordon Wetherell as governor of the islands.
The People’s Democratic Movement, which previously welcomed British efforts to clean up the government, released a statement demanding “a return of power to the people of the Turks and Caicos islands,” and characterized the British announcement as a “blatant attempt to further separate Turks and Caicos Islanders from [their] inalienable rights to full democracy.”
Islanders’ frustrations with the British interim government have increased amid the economic downturn and continued political turmoil.