New Turks and Caicos political party may include alliance of former chief ministers

Skippings headed the PDM in the November 2012 election, which has been described as the closest election ever held in the TCI.

This was the first election in which Skippings ran as an “at large” candidate subject to selection by the entire voting population. In the past, Skippings ran in one of four election districts on the capital island of Grand Turk, which in the 1980s was a PDM stronghold. In the 2012 election, voters could select five “at large” candidates from a field of 12, comprising five candidates from each of the two main parties and two independents. Skippings and a close colleague, Samuel Harvey, a former minister in the 1995-2003 PDM government, lost their at large campaigns to three other PDM candidates and two from the Progressive National Party (PNP).

District losses by as few as 11, 17 and 30 votes gave the PNP a one-seat victory. Some believe it was the questionable popularity of Skippings that cost PDM the government. However, post election, Skippings blamed his own party for his failure to win a seat. Skippings had taken over the leadership of the PDM prior to the election at a party convention.

Skippings had previously been unsuccessful in contesting the PDM party leadership against local CPA Floyd Seymour in 2008 and against businessman Doug Parnell in 2009 after Seymour resigned. 

While Skippings is promoting the PDA in the media, he has yet to announce who else will be included. However, sources have indicated that former party chairman Shaun Malcolm has told acquaintances he plans to run. 

The use of the “Progressive” label in the new party’s name has drawn some comment locally and Skippings has told the media that he expects to draw support from the PNP and to some extent from the PDM and the apparently moribund People’s Progressive Party (PPP) the third party in 2012.

In recent years the British territory has been in political limbo due to the delay in the ongoing corruption trials, which came as a result of the PDM opposition calling for a Commission of Inquiry in 2008. The allegations against former PNP ministers, including Misick, include tens of millions in money that they stand accused of accepting in bribes and kickbacks, misuse of public funds to support an extravagant lifestyle of the government ministers including private jets and lavish parties. 

A special investigation and prosecution team (SIPT), initially funded by Britain, has charged Misick and his entire cabinet, some family members and others, including a former PNP leader and house speaker Clayton Greene. 

Misick fled the territory but was arrested in Brazil and extradited one year later in January 2014, after two unsuccessful asylum applications to remain in Brazil. Misick currently remains at liberty in the TCI on $10 million bail awaiting trial. 

There is some local speculation that Skippings and Misick have formed an alliance to fight the British oversight in the TCI and, while Misick was being held in the Grand Turk prison, Skippings visited him. Skippings now admits he has close ties to certain PNP politicians and has said he anticipates certain PNP members will join him in his efforts. 

At a recent well attended funeral service, Skippings and Misick sat together during the entire proceedings while Malcolm was seen preparing the podium for PNP Premier Rufus Ewing during his nearby role as choir leader.

 

 

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