Monday, August 27, 2007

General Elections Won by Opposition, Ralph O'Neal to be the new Premier of BVI

Last week I gave some kind of preview of the BVI general elections, as the most important event in the British Virgin Islands, which will inevitably bring changes into the economic course, first of all in tourism and in the offshore sector. Now, when the results are already known and the new government is taken to oath, we can summarize that these results really changed the political situation in the BVI.

Tough competition between the National Democratic Party with its flagships Orlando Smith, Ronnie Skelton, Elmore Stoutt and Mark Vanterpool, and the 40-years-old Virgin Islands Party with Ralph O'Neal, Keith Flax and Vernon Malone, resulted in the victory of the opposition. VIP has won seven seats in the 15-member House of Assembly (former Legislative Council), and returned to power after a 4-year interval.

Probably, the voters in the British Virgin Islands showed some kind of rejection of the ruling NDP's platform, as there was only one successful candidate from the NDP which was the government's minister before the poll.

By the voting results, the VIP received top three spots. It should be said that the forth spot belongs to former Chief Minister Orlando Smith, who is also the NDP president. Orlando Smith conceded defeat of his party, saying that his government's approach was to develop BVI economy through the sectors of tourism and financial services. The head of the Virgin Islands Party, Carvin Malone, also named growth of economy as one of the main focuses of the VIP during the campaign. Both leaders agreed that key factor in the results of these elections was public perception of the development projects initiated during the ruling period of NDP.

On Wednesday, August 22, the Governor David Pearey officially assigned ex-leader of the opposition Hon. Ralph O'Neal as the first Premier of the British Virgin Islands. On Thursday, new government of the British Virgin Islands was sworn in at a ceremony held at the Chambers of the House of Assembly. Hon. Ralph O’Neal was sworn as Premier and Minister of Finance & Tourism, Hon. Andrew Fahie – as Minister of Education & Culture, Hon. Julian Frazer became the minister of Communication and Works. The other government ministers sworn during the ceremony were Hon. Omar Wallace Hodge – Minister of Natural Resources & Labor, and Hon. Ruth Dancia Penn which will lead the Ministry of Health and Social Development.

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