Wednesday, June 27, 2007

New BVI Constitution Approved by British Privy Council

British Virgin Islands Chief Minister Orlando Smith announced the approvement of the Virgin Islands Constitution Order 2007 by the Privy Council in London. Orlando Smith informed that he received the corresponding letter from Lord David Triesman, Parliamentary undersecretary of state for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The new document will come into effect on the dissolution of the BVI Legislative Council, which should be made by July 10 with general elections constitutionally due by October. The appointment of a Cabinet Secretary will also take effect only after the elections.

A constitutional commission was established in the territory after the British government decided in 2001 to invite UK Overseas Territories to appoint local commissioners to review and make recommendations on the advancement of their constitutions. The Constitutional Commission was appointed in the BVI in April 2004. On April 15, 2005 the report was formally handed to BVI Chief Minister, based on the comments and opinions received from a wide part of the community. After the report was accepted by Executive Council, there were four rounds of constitutional negotiations, the last of which took place from February 26 to March 2. At the end of this final round, Orlando Smith reported that the BVI had 95% of the proposals.

Gov. David Pearey, the British government's representative in the BVI, also welcomed the announcement on Thursday. He congratulated all sides in the negotiations for their contribution to the creation of the new constitution. Pearey said, "This is an historic day for the BVI. The new constitution, now approved, is the first complete revision since 1976 and fully reflects the BVI's current political maturity."

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