Turks and Caicos party to abandon reform talks with Britain until election date restored

PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos (AP) — A political boss in the Turks and Caicos Islands said Wednesday that his party is abandoning reform talks with British officials until a guaranteed date is set for an election restoring self rule.

Doug Parnell, chief of the People's Democratic Movement, said it discontinued talks because none of the recommendations given by islanders during recent meetings have been included in constitutional amendments proposed by British officials.

"The people of this country reject it," said Parnell, who leads one of two parties in the British dependency some 500 miles (800 kilometers) southeast of Florida.

On Tuesday, Britain's minister for overseas territories announced that elections to return self governance for Turks and Caicos would be delayed indefinitely to allow time for anti-corruption and good-government reforms to take effect. A vote had been set for July 2011.

Britain imposed direct rule on Turks and Caicos in August 2009 after a government probe into allegations that local leaders misused public money and profited from the sale of government-owned land to developers. The local government and legislature were suspended and a London-appointed governor took direct charge.

Henry Bellingham, the British minister for overseas territories, said Tuesday that the local vote would be held "as soon as practicable," saying he would announce before year's end the "remaining milestones" to be met.