My Fellow Turks and Caicos Islanders:
For the past three months post the general elections of 9th November 2012, we the electorate have been in a semi-comatose state while our electoral system in three TCI Electoral Districts - District 1: Grand Turk North, District 4: North Caicos and Middle Caicos, and District 7: Cheshire Hall and Richmond Hills was being adjudicated. The judiciary ruled that the election results of 9th November 2012, in the aforementioned electoral districts be as follows: Electoral District 7 results voided, the seat vacated, and a by-election to be held pursuant to the Turks and Caicos Islands Elections Ordinance, and the Turks and Caicos Islands Constitution 2011; Electoral District 1 results upheld; and Electoral District 4 results upheld. Hence on 12th February 2013, His Excellency Governor Damien Todd issued a proclamation declaring 22nd March 2013, as the official date for a by-election to be held in Electoral District 7.
In light of the aforementioned, the Turks and Caicos Islands (“TCI”) political future as to which political party will govern our state of affairs for the next four years has been placed into the hands of the electorate of Cheshire Hall and Richmond Hills, and many of the registered constituents in District 7 are contemplating not to participate in this upcoming by-election for fear of having to stand in long lines again for hours. Unfortunately, I do not possess the gift of clairvoyance, nor am I in a position of authority to provide you some level of assurance that the office of the Supervisor of Elections will not render an encore performance of its disorganisation at the polling stations on 22nd March 2013. However, what I can assure you, should you not choose to commence making political legal sacrifices and enduring some measure of inconvenience when it comes to protecting your constitutional franchises, you will always be treated as a second class citizen in your own country, forever mentally enslaved and always at the mercies of misguided political leaders.
On Friday 1st March 2013, the two main TCI political parties nominated their candidate for the by-election in District 7. Therefore, I am humbly asking each and every registered constituent of the aforementioned District to make whatever legal sacrifice that is required for you to be able to come out to the polls on 22nd March 2013, and exercise your constitutional franchise based on your own political conscience.
The last three years of direct United Kingdom (“UK”) rule via its interim administration has shown and taught us many lessons, but the most important lesson of them all is that we must commence to stand up, speak out and fight for our constitutional freedoms, rights and autonomy. This can only be attained if “WE THE PEOPLE” begin to: (a) exhibit political maturity; (b) discontinue allowing ourselves to be divided by persons or entities that do not share our collective national conscience; (c) elect independent thinking persons to our House of Assembly that possesses the moral ability to help implement and maintain fiscal discipline, govern on a nonpartisan basis, willing to serve the electorate with honesty, transparency, and national pride; and (e) have national discussions on the subject of national sovereignty.
It is incumbent upon our political leaders to possess the political will to commence this national discussion, and ensuing, schedule a national referendum on the subject. The days of our political leaders being ambiguous and pandering to both sides of the political divide in order to suppress national discussions on national sovereignty, those days are long behind us. The UK powers that be have clearly demonstrated, and the time has come for us Turks and Caicos Islanders to decide how we wish to proceed with our political autonomy in the near future. A national referendum will settle the issue once and for all, and allow us move on either as a UK Overseas Dependant Territory, or begin the process of negotiations with the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office for the Independence of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Regardless of the referendum results, we are a nation of resilient people that are determined to reclaim our democracy democratically, transparently and peacefully by way of the ballot and not through violence among ourselves.
So I end by reiterating the following: every registered constituent of District 7 need to make whatever legal sacrifice that is required for you to be able to come out to the polls on 22nd March 2013, and exercise your constitutional franchise based on your own political conscience.
Albray Butterfield, Jr.