By Caribbean News Now contributor
PROVIDENCIALES, TCI -- Former Turks and Caicos (TCI) premier Michael Misick, who is currently on trial on a number of corruption and money laundering charges, announced on Saturday his intention to seek the nomination to run for the North and Middle Caicos electoral district for the ruling Progressive National Party (PNP) at the next general elections in the territory, which are constitutionally due no later than February 2017.
“I seek God’s blessing and favour as we continue the struggle to free our people from colonial rule and lead them into true progress and prosperity,” Misick said.
Misick must nevertheless go through the process of being accepted by the constituency branch and then ratified by the leadership of the PNP, which is headed by Premier Rufus Ewing.
Misick’s candidacy will also be subject to vetting by the TCI Integrity Commission, which can apply to the court for a declaration that a candidate is unfit for elected office.
The North and Middle Caicos seat is currently held by Misick's nephew, Don Hue Gardiner, the minister of immigration and labour, who won by a narrow margin of just 11 votes at the last general election in November 2012.
Gardiner boycotted this weekend’s PNP convention, reportedly because of his displeasure at Ewing’s failure to move a motion to make all incumbents’ seats safe from challenge by other prospective candidates, except for that of the party leader himself.
Local reaction to Misick’s announcement ranged from asking if it was a joke; to an assertion that “he doesn’t have any shame”; to a “we told you so” from the opposition Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM).
“What is he thinking? I don't think it is a good idea. He should try to win his case first,” said one former Misick supporter.
A member of the PDM said, “We have been saying all along that this is the same PNP, despite Rufus Ewing’s attempt at claiming this is the dawn of a new day.”
In a subsequent statement, PDM chairman Doug Parnell said Misick’s return to frontline politics is no cause for celebration since he has yet to give an account for the untold millions of dollars that passed through his hands while in office.
Parnell reminded voters of the condition Misick left the territory in when he fled from justice, ultimately leading to his extradition from Brazil:
1. Two consecutive years of budget deficits of $38 million and $36 million;
2. $100 million in unpaid bills;
3. Some 15 failed developments that were abandoned, incomplete or bankrupt;
4. Government ministers who were in fear of him;
5. A scathing commission of inquiry that reported systemic corruption within the government.
“This is but a snapshot of what he did while in government. We welcome the opportunity to have a debate with the PNP over its record especially in North and Middle Caicos,” Parnell added.