The People’s Empowerment Party (PEP) will be taking its message to Virgin Gorda on Saturday 10 May. Secretary of the newly launched political Party, Natalio Wheatley (aka Sowande Uhuru) told The Island Sun newspaper in an interview on 6 May that the meeting, which will be held at the Catholic Community Centre at 7:30 p.m. is geared at introducing the residents of that sister island to the new political entity and its constitution.
Mr. Wheatley also mentioned that the Party is in the process of organizing district committees which will be tasked with selecting candidates for the 2015 general elections. He said that an invitation will be extended to attendees at Saturday’s meeting to become members, and to form the Ninth District Committee.
The Party Secretary explained that the dates for other territory-wide PEP meetings are still tentative, but noted that Anegada is set to be the next location.
Importance of District Committee
In a statement issued by the Party some weeks ago, Wheatley announced that the Party did not announce the name of any candidate as this is something that cannot be done without the requisite district committees in place.
He said: “It is also important to clarify a popular misconception that has developed since the launching of our party. Some people are making insinuations with regard to our potential candidates. It is important to state that the People’s Empowerment Party has no named candidates presently. Not even the Chairman of the party has been determined to be a candidate at this point. The PEP constitution specifically outlines that all candidates will be selected by the various district committees. Therefore, whomever the people want, the people will get, in accordance with the democratic principles of empowerment espoused by our organization.”
The Party’s Secretary stressed that the candidate announcement cannot be made before the various committee formations, hence the reason for the various meetings: “Our first task is to establish district committees. These committees have an important function and are the lifeblood of the organization. They seek to engage the various communities in the Virgin Islands in social, political, and other types of activities, which serve the purpose of bettering the lives of the people of the Territory. These district committees are a part of the democratic structure of the organization, collectively helping to determine party policy, programs, and prospective candidates for the general election.”
Elections are held at least every four years. The last election was held on 7 November 2011. The system of elections is Westminster-style. The parties nominate candidates on a nomination day. Government is formed by the leader best able to command a majority in the House of Assembly. In 2011, the National Democratic Party won 9 of the 13 seats (5 district representatives, and 4 territorial representatives). The remaining four seats went to the Virgin Islands Party.