Books about Anguilla


Tuesday, 28 February 2012


Letter to Rev. Dr. H. Clifton Niles

Mr. Fritz Smith - Chairman of the 
Anguilla United Front (AUF)
Rev. Dr. H. Clifton Niles
The Constitutional and Electoral Reform Committee
South Hill

Dear Dr Niles,

We are in possession of and have read the various provisions of the draft constitution which are in the process of being prepared as a result of the deliberations of the constitutional committee to date. Having read and discussed the said provisions, the Anguilla United Front Party (“the AUF”) is through this medium informing you that we have disassociated ourselves from this process and, our representative on the committee will not play any further role in the exercise, going forward. We have made this decision for the following reasons:

1. The draft provisions clearly indicate that the committee has deliberately ignored the current realities of the environment in which this exercise is taking place and are putting forward a document with the same amendments which the UK Government has already rejected for our sister Caribbean Overseas Territories as recent as eighteen (18) months ago. Every single UK Overseas Territory including Bermuda and the Cayman Islands have recognized and have accepted that the boundaries have been clearly established for the exercise of internal self-government. In this context, the present UK Coalition Government has made it clear in all of its position papers on the issue of full internal self-government that “the UK will not agree to a constitutional arrangement where we retain responsibilities without the necessary means to discharge them”. This is an exact quote from Mr. Simon Fraser, the FCO Permanent Under-Secretary at Government House, Old Ta, Anguilla on November 3, 2011. Based on this unambiguous statement by Mr Fraser, it is foreseeable that any constitution based on full internal self-government (and specifically any amendments which effectively reduce the powers of the Governor) at this point in time is likely not to be accepted by the UK Government. Our representative on your committee has indicated this view to you and other committee members in the past.

2. In recent statements Chief Minister Hughes has said that the committee is mandated to prepare a constitution geared to full internal self-government. While the AUF remains in favour of this option and in fact had discussions with the late Dame Bernice Lake on crafting a constitution to achieve this arrangement, given these clear boundaries set by the UK Government we believe that presenting such a document would be unnecessarily confrontational. The experience of the other Overseas Territories confirm this assessment. Further, the change in the UK Government in 2010 and the expressed position of the new coalition government in the UK clearly indicate that this is now not an option to which the UK Government will agree. 

3. The AUF believes that, based on the utterances of the Members of Government and more so of the Chief Minister, a rejection of the draft constitution based on full internal self-government by the UK Government, will lead to the usual and unnecessary confrontation between the Chief Minister and his colleagues and the UK Government. In addressing the issue of independence Mr Fraser has stated, “As we have often said, the British Government fully supports the principle of self-determination. Where independence is an option, as it is for Anguilla, and is the clearly and constitutionally expressed wish of the majority of the people of the Territory, the British Government will give every help to that Territory to achieve it”. Therefore, there need not be any tension with the UK Government in relation to independence.

4. It is therefore clear to us that, inasmuch as full internal self-government is no longer an option at this point in time, there are two (2) other real options available to Anguilla and Anguillians, 
(i) enhancing/improving our existing relationship with the UK as a British Overseas Territory; or 
(ii) deciding on the issue of independence.
If Anguillians choose to enhance/improve the existing relationship with the UK, then a revision of the Anguilla Constitution in the manner being currently drafted by the Committee becomes irrelevant. If, however, Anguillians choose to go independent (as evidenced by way of a referendum), then a new “independent” constitution will have to be prepared and taken to the people of Anguilla.
5. The current financial and fiscal condition of the country and the forecast for the near future must also be taken into account. In these times, the focus should be on restoring economic stability to Anguilla and doing so void of any controversy with the UK government over a draft constitution and independence for Anguilla. Such controversy could only serve to further destabilise our economy and damage our tourism product and investment opportunities, all of which have direct negative implications for our people.

Rev. Dr. H. Clifton Niles – Chairman of 
the Anguilla Constitutional and Electoral 
Reform Committee 
The AUF is therefore of the view that the course of action which the Government of Anguilla has embarked upon in relation to full internal self-government is ineffective and time consuming. We would suggest that the constitutional reform instead focus on the viability of options (i) and (ii) as aforementioned.

If, after appropriate consultation and education on the pros and cons of independence, our people decide to vote yes for independence, then the AUF will join with the Government of Anguilla in agreeing a time table for independence and lend its full support to the educational process. For the record, however, it should be known that while we call for a referendum in order to ascertain the views of the people, the AUF does not support independence for Anguilla at this time but we are in full support of a well thought through educational process on the pros and cons of independence. 

Please also be advised that our representative on the Committee has not accepted compensation for her appointment to the Committee. We would like suggest that said compensation be used for another worthy cause in Anguilla, such as the Anguilla Literary and Debating Society, which is now hosting the 40th Anniversary of the Leeward Islands Debating Competition.Yours sincerely

Mr. Fritz Smith - Chairman - Anguilla United Front (AUF) 

Honourable Chief Minister - Mr Hubert Hughes,
Honourable Minister of Home Affairs - Mr Walcott Richardson,
Honourable Minister of Social Development - Mr Edison Baird,
Honourable Minister of Infrastructure - Mr Evan Gumbs,
The Press

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