The excitement and anticipation of a political debate between the leaders of the four parties vying for leadership of the Territory was dashed after it was explained that some of the party chairpersons were not interested in the debate. However, there were still expectations for the face-off between the NDP and VIP chairpersons; but this was also dashed with Tuesday’s announcement that the VIP Chairman Andrew Fahie was no longer participating.
A statement from the Virgin Islands Party explained that the VIP’s agreement to participate in the debate was provisional. The Party said that they agreed that Hon. Fahie was going to participate only if other political leaders participate.
“For the record, we had also provisionally agreed to a debate among the leaders, once the leaders of all the other major parties were willing to come to the table. Our team has been preparing for the event on the assumption that all the leaders of all the parties were willing to do so,” the statement said.
The VIP said that the statement was necessary because of discussions that were taking place in various quarters of the Territory, and because the debate was being promoted. “The Virgin Islands Party has noted that a debate, suggesting the involvement of our leader Andrew Fahie is being promoted through various media. Discussions about the proposed debate have been going on for a period of time with agents of the party representing our Chairman. The VIP has been eager for a debate – and in fact had even proposed additional debates involving each candidate at the District Level.”
The VIP said that they have been made to understand that some participation was not secured and therefore – notwithstanding the efforts made by the organizers – it was deemed necessary to withdraw participation interest. “We appreciate that the organizers have been working tirelessly to ensure that everyone would have come forward to explain and defend their policy ideas. As it stands now, we have been informed that not all the leaders will be there – a clear condition for the event is therefore not being met.”
In further explaining the reason for the decision the VIP said: “We want a genuine debate, and a thrashing out of ideas for national development. But having such an event reduced to a circus, will do a disservice to the electorate. We stand ready to join a debate – even at short notice – should the preparation and organization for it meet the standards that we have had discussed.”
“We however thought that it was unfortunate, that our name was being attached to the event promoted, when the fundamental conditionality was not met. Our Chairman Andrew Fahie, has proven, through his performance in the House of Assembly over the last four years, his capacity to understand the facts, to expose the lies, and to almost single-handedly take on a cabal bent on disrespect and not levelling with the people,” the VIP added.