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Governor and Chief Minister in public spat over transfer of senior public servants

But Harrison, who was presented with a petition by the demonstrators, said he has noted their concerns and has promised to respond as soon as he has had the opportunity to study the document.

The placard bearing demonstrators are upset because the Governor and his Anguilla-born deputy Stanley Reid earlier this year announced that there would be a rotation of the permanent secretaries,  including the person attached to the Ministry of Finance which falls under the portfolio of the Chief Minister.

“We are trying to send a clear message to the Foreign and Commonwealth office that this old fashion, colonial slave situation cannot continue in the Caribbean in the 21st century,” Hughes told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).

According to the signatories of the petition, the decision of the Governor and his deputy are “not in the best interests of Anguilla”.

The petition,  which is also addressed to the United Kingdom Overseas Territories Minister Henry Bellingham, claims that when the current political administration took office in February last year, citizens were made aware that Anguilla had a deficit of EC$70 million (US$25.9 million) and other debts which were in excess of EC$200 million (US$74 million).

The demonstrators in the petition told Harrison said that while local technocrats had taken measures to reduce the liabilities, they were disappointed “that you seek to move key personnel, particularly in the Finance Department, and put them in areas which are not their discipline and replace them by persons unqualified for those positions.

“This is certainly not the best use of our limited human resources. We are the persons who will be ultimately affected and we believe this transfer should be revoked unconditionally,” according to the petition.

According to the demonstrators, despite a request from the Overseas Territories Minister and support from the other leaders of the British Overseas Territories to review the decision, Harrison has indicated to the public that his decision to shuffle the permanent secretaries stands.

The protesters said that they have noted “a pattern of disrespect that this Governor gives to this administration and by extension the people of Anguilla”.

In the note to Bellingham, the demonstrators said that while they have expressed “the fullest confidence” in the Governor, they truly feel that based on the Governor’s actions over the past 18 months that he needs to be recalled.

“We cannot continue to accept this conduct on the part of the Governor any longer.”

Hughes told reporters shortly after the Governor spoke that if the request to London for his removal is not carried out the people will continue their protests.

“We will continue to do what we are doing now until we get what we want. We are talking about democracy. These are concerns of the people to a country who always preach democracy and fair play and they must listen. As small as we are we will make them listen,” Hughes said, flanked by Home Affairs Minister Walcott Richardson and Works Minister Evan Gumbs.

But a notable absentee was Social Development Minister Edison Baird, who has been out of favour with his ministerial colleagues..

Hughes said during the Overseas Territories Conference in London last month, he reported to the delegates “that the Governor of Anguilla is a virtual dictator and that he manipulates every system…to suit his whim and fancy.

“He also undermines the economy of Anguilla, but there is a conspiracy with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to make sure that Anguilla does not have a foreign economy.

“When I put my case, the Governor came to me during the break time and said ‘you have just saved my job, meaning in the views of my bosses I must be doing a good job for Chief Minister to be aggravated”.

Hughes told CMC that he has since promised himself “never to attend those conferences” adding “the only way now for Anguilla is for totally independence from Britain”.

He said ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the western powers have no more interest in the Third World and the “British have become increasingly arrogant in their attitude.

“They have virtually destroyed all the economic resource of Anguilla…and I am trying to retrieve the situation in this global downturn and they are still trying to burden a non functioning economy with taxation and they don’t give Anguilla a penny to buy medicine.

“They want to privatise every system and they want to create poverty and this Governor…gets his support from the Foreign Office,” Hughes said, insisting that London do “something about it”.

“My only way of sending that message is civil disobedience in Anguilla and this is what we will conduct until the British government gets the message, because there is no way they will come in Anguilla and create a Turks and Caicos here,” a reference to the decision by London to suspend that island’s Constitution and rule it from Britain.

Hughes accused London of turning a blind eye to allegations of corruption in Anguilla over the past years, adding “basically we are determined not to stop.

“We started the process today and we will not stop until the whole world knows what Britain is doing to Anguilla,” he told CMC, reminding London that Anguilla had first staged a revolution in 1967 to show their independence.

“We are not going to accept this type of humiliation, this colonial slavery all over again. We are not going to accept it and I am staging this revolution, the second revolution.

“I gave them (Britain) an opportunity to do it their way and they refused. We must settle it at home and this is the way we are going to settle it. I am sending them a clear message that we are not going to accept one Englishman to come here and tarnish the whole society,” Hughes said.

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