PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands: Restaurant, liquor store owner and former Home Affairs Minister Galmore ‘Gilly’ Williams emerged victorious on Saturday afternoon in a three way battle for party leadership held at a special Progressive National Party (PNP) convention, called specifically for this purpose.
Originally this convention was called by Premier Michael Misick to reconfirm his leadership. However, as part of an announcement of his forthcoming resignation from his post, he also indicated he was no longer a candidate for party leadership. Misick is due to leave his post as Premier on March 31.
Williams is now almost certain to become Premier after the prorogued House of Assembly reconvenes and the other 12 PNP Members vote to assign Williams the Premiership. While not confirmed, many have reported that the House will be called to order on April 1, one day after Misick leaves the Premiership. There is also speculation that, after obtaining the premiership, Williams will appoint Misick as Finance Minister. The Budget hearings are due in April.
Floyd Hall, the former Finance Minister, who also recently resigned, and new Health Minister Royal Robinson, were also in contention for the PNP leadership. According to sources within the PNP, the first round of voting eliminated Royal, as he received the least number of votes. The runoff between Hall and Williams then resulted in the victory for Williams.
Political analysts and PNP insiders have told Caribbean Net News that Misick was favouring Royal Robinson, as he is the youngest member of the cabinet, newly appointed by Misick. Williams was reportedly Misick’s second choice. Misick is said to have pulled as many strings as he could to exclude Floyd Hall from winning the party leadership.
The reasoning given for this was twofold. One, it was Hall who led the PNP group of elected members in an attempt to oust Misick by a vote of no confidence. In fact, this contention grew out of a motion of no confidence proposed by the opposition Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) in the last House of Assembly meeting. No vote was taken because Clayton Greene, the Speaker of the House, adjourned the Assembly prematurely on a technicality, which appears to have had no substance.
Misick went to work and wooed three members, including Robinson, to his side, leaving only six dissident members. However, if the house was in session the remaining six, plus the opposition’s two votes, would have been sufficient to pass the no confidence vote against Misick. Thereupon, he prorogued the house.
Sources also gave a second reason for Misick’s attempt to exclude Hall. Hall is an elected member from Grand Turk. Grand Turk was always a PDM stronghold until the extravagant 2007 election campaign provided the PNP with two of the four seats.
However, after Hurricane Ike caused extensive damage to Grand Turk and the PNP had failed to put away disaster reserves, much suffering continues in Grand Turk, as people cannot replace their roofs and windows. School repairs or replacement buildings are also not going forward. Residents and students are using tents in which to live and hold classes.
With these conditions persisting for the foreseeable future, it appears that the Grand Turk electorate will return the island to the PDM whenever the next election is held.