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Wikileaks Cable: PLP and FNM not serious about Turks Island union

The United States Embassy in The Bahamas expressed the view in 2009 that The Bahamas was not seriously interested in forming a federation with the Turks and Caicos Islands(TCI), according to a secret cable released by Wikileaks.

The cable was dated September 3, 2009, classified by Charge d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Nassau Timothy Zuniga-Brown. It was published by the British newspaperThe Guardianyesterday.

In late August 2009, during a visit to The Bahamas, former TCI Premier Michael Misick suggested the federation. Misick had recently resigned as premier in the face of allegations of corruption.

The United Kingdom assumed direct rule of the colony in August 2009 as a result of widespread allegations of corruption by members of the then government.

In response to the federation idea, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said on September 1 that he would be happy to discuss a federation. However, he added, that could only be done once the constitutional crisis in TCI was over.

Such talks, Ingraham continued, would need to be driven by the peoples of the respective countries.

Former Progressive Liberal Party(PLP)Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell was cited inThe Tribuneon September 2, 2009 stating that The Bahamas and TCI joining was a”fascinating idea worth exploring.”But he too said the constitutional crisis would need to be resolved before the idea could be pursued further.

The U.S. Embassy in Nassau regarded the statements by representatives of both political parties as not serious.

“The GCOB(Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas)and opposition statements on federation are rhetoric designed to placate a historical neighbor during uncertain times,”said the cable.

“Mitchell was careful to note that the times in which the two countries were united, most recently from 1965 to 1973, were not’entirely happy’. If the U.K. is able to quickly stabilize conditions in the country and restore government confidence, little is likely to materialize from the federation suggestion. However, if economic conditions worsen, there could be increased calls for The Bahamas to take action; calls The Bahamas is unlikely to heed.”

Mitchell was referenced in a second cable dated June 3, 2009. Zuniga-Brown’s name is attached at the end of the cable, which describes a fractured TCI political class in response to the intervention by the U.K.

“The point on the fractured nature of TCI’s political leadership was reinforced by former Bahamian Foreign Minister Fred Mitchell. Mitchell, shadow foreign affairs leader for the Bahamian opposition party, recently led a delegation to TCI that wanted to explore ways to rally CARICOM against London resuming direct rule,”said the cable.

“Mitchell told the Charge that they found surprising ambivalence among TCI government officials and that the opposition PDM refused even to meet with the Bahamian delegation. Mitchell said that this explained the lack of serious Caribbean-wide efforts, at least for now, against the resumption of direct UK rule.”

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