Dear Justice Mitchell,
Re: Constitutional Discussions
Please be advised that the Government of Anguilla has nominated you to be a member of the Anguilla team for the first round of Constitutional discussions with the British in Anguilla on 23 July 2007, and the second round of discussions in
I should be grateful, on behalf of Government, if you would confirm your willingness to participate in these discussions.
The Chief Minister’s Office will be in contact with you as to the time and venue of the meetings.
(sd) M Foster
Chief Minister’s Office
Well, what do you make of this? I will tell you what first struck me. One, it is very late. I would have thought that the Chief Minster would have chosen his team months ago. But, maybe it is just me who was a late addition, and the others have been in position and preparing themselves for the discussions. It could be that it is just me who does not know what is going on. Two, he does not tell me who the other team members are. I would want Dame Dr Bernice Lake to be a member. I would really like her to be the lead member of the team, but I would settle for her being just a member. I am not happy being a member is she is not a member. I would want Lolita Richardson to be a member. She is very annoying to some persons, but she has the right ideas when it comes to the Constitution of Anguilla. I would want Joyce Kentish, the president of the Bar, to be a member. She will bring the perspective of a senior, active legal practitioner to the discussions. But, I have no idea if there is a single non-government lawyer besides me who has been invited to be a member. Three, the letter does not tell me about any preparations that are to be made to get ready for the visit of the British team. I do not know what the team is going to be negotiating.
The House of Assembly has not yet met to debate the recommendations of the Commission and to put on record their own conclusions and wishes. I would have thought that this was an essential prerequisite for any meeting with the British to take place. There have been private meetings between the government and the opposition representatives in the House. I was present at some of them. But, I do not count private meetings as being of any importance or significance. It is only the commitment made in public meetings that members of the Anguillian public are interested in.
Are the politicians going to adopt wholeheartedly the recommendations of the Constitutional and Electoral Reform Commission? Are they going to improve on its recommendations? Or, are they going to dilute and fritter away the recommendations?
Are there going to be practice sessions, so that our team might be ready for the most outrageous pontifications of the
Who is doing the research into what has been adopted in the other territories, so we know which of our recommendations are mere formalities, and which others are going to take very hard and determined argument to push through?
Do we have an agreed agenda, a bottom line below which we will not venture?
Who is going to give the signal for us to walk out of the negotiations if the British are unreasonable?
What is to be the signal? Will it be a tug on the collar, or a fist pounding on the table?
All these matters have to be discussed and agreed!
This is not a joke. I am very serious. Taking part in these negotiations unprepared, like a bunch of amateurs, could be the worst betrayal of
What would you recommend I do in the circumstances in response to this invitation? Please let me have your views promptly. Although the Chief Minister’s office took a long time to invite me, they probably require a response from me pretty soon.