Ascension : Letter's To FCO From Cyril Leo
Submitted by The Islander (Gavin Yon) 10.01.2008 (Article Archived on 24.01.2008)
Dear Sir, Thank you for offering me the opportunity to put forward my views on democracy and the future Governance of Ascension Island.
17th December 2007
Mr Andrew Allen
Head of Southern Ocean Team, OTD, FCO
Thank you for offering me the opportunity to put forward my views on democracy and the future Governance of Ascension Island.
I have been residing on Ascension since July 1968. Over many years I was a member of the Administrator's Forum. On 16 November 2005 I was democratically elected to serve on the Island Council.
As the peoples' elected representatives strived for democratic principles and meaningful progress and development on Ascension, the FCO consistently opposed our efforts in the name of Her Majesty's Government. The endless exploitation and manipulation of elected members forced a mass resignation from councillors, and democracy on Ascension, still in its weakest stage, was dismantled. The Island Council was dissolved on 2 April 2007. The disturbing political climate and uncertainty that had been created by the FCO made it very difficult for members of the electorate to be willing to stand for new elections. This despondent response from the residents of Ascension to consistent FCO dominance in local affairs is understandable, and it will remain so unless there is a willingness by the FCO to stop imposing unnecessary restrictions and limitations within policies that affects the people of Ascension. The FCO must make an honourable commitment to the development of democracy according to the wishes of the residents of Ascension Island.
On 4 May 2007 I was invited by the Governor to serve on the Ascension Island Advisory Group. In serving on the AIAG, albeit an undemocratic process with many limitations, I believe it allows me to continue questioning and focusing attention on some of the issues that concern
s the taxpayers of Ascension. My prime concern is that the new Governor, without further delay, should set a date for new elections and permit the taxpayers' to have democratically elected representation. Our incomes are taxed, and there is no justification for taxation without representation on Ascension.
The UK Government is against the development of right of abode and property ownership on Ascension because of contingent liability concerns that could impact the British taxpayer. In honouring the 1999 White Paper – Partnership for Progress and Prosperity – Britain and the Overseas Territories, the FCO must play a constructive role in dealing with the residents of Ascension, allows democracy on Ascension to resume and mature, and encourages elected representatives to bring about development for real progress with the aim of lowering, and eventually removing, the UK Government's contingent liability concerns.
Proposals for real development and progress on Ascension are constantly opposed by the FCO. In the name of the Her Majesty's Government, there is an obsessive determination to block off all avenues that FCO officials suspect could ultimately lead to any form of permanent settlement on Ascension. This FCO approach simply ignores the fundamental needs and wishes of the taxpayers of Ascension, and it seriously undermines the UK Government's 1999 White Paper, Britain and the Overseas Territories, in which it states:
"The people of the Overseas Territories must exercise the greatest possible control
over their own lives. We are proud that our Overseas Territories are beacons of democracy. We applaud their achievements, and want them to have the autonomy they need to continue to flourish."
(Member of the Ascension Island Advisory Group)
2 January 2008
Meg Munn MP
Foreign and Commonwealth Minister
Thank you for the opportunity to meet you and give my views on the future of democracy on Ascension.
Please find attached a letter I wrote to Mr Andrew Allen, dated 17 December 2007, containing some of my views on the democracy issue; I would like to bring those views to your attention also.
In addition, I would like you to give some consideration to the following concerns:
- The FCO should instruct the Administrator to adopt policies that are more accommodating of the various needs of those living and working on Ascension.
- If the FCO is serious about creditable democracy on Ascension, then the advice of elected representatives on legislation and policy matters must be taken seriously by the FCO.
- The FCO must have genuine respect for the peoples' elected representatives, and cultivate a "partnership" working relationship.
- The people of Ascension must have democracy that is not dominated by the USA and UK Governments strategic interests in Ascension.
(Member of the Ascension Island Advisory Group)