Governor Martyn Roper has given his support to the person-by-person verification process taking place for the petition for a referendum on the cruise port.
Campaigners seeking a referendum and opposition politicians have complained that the process is “onerous” and suggested Cabinet is interfering in the process in an effort to delay or prevent a referendum.
Both groups called on the governor this week to intervene. Roper said Thursday that he was already closely involved in the process and was confident that there had been no interference from Cabinet.
“I am aware of the concerns that have been expressed about the comprehensive process being followed to verify the signatures on the petition which was presented to the Elections Commissioner by Cruise Port Referendum Cayman,” he said in a statement.
“I can assure everyone that Cabinet has no role whatsoever in the verification process, which remains the sole responsibility of [Supervisor of Elections Wesley] Howell, who reports to me and in whom I have full confidence.”
He said it was important, for both sides, that there were no questions about the validity of the petition.
“This is the first time in Cayman’s history that we have been on the verge of a People’s Initiated Referendum. We need to ensure that we get the process right. There can be no shortcuts to democracy. To provide clear and unambiguous proof that the signatures on the petition are valid will provide a solid base for what will follow, and help to protect the process from any potential legal challenge in the future.”
He expressed confidence that the verification process, which involves Elections Office staff going door to door recollecting signatures, could be done swiftly.
“Mr. Howell and his team will carry out this exercise as quickly as possible and will try to make it as easy for everyone to verify their signatures as they can,” the governor said. “He will take independent decisions based on appropriate legal advice and will also have access to advice from the UK’s Electoral Commission going forward.
“My office and I will help to oversee the process and ensure there is no interference in the important task that Mr. Howell is undertaking. We now need to let him get on with the task and respect his independence.”
Meanwhile Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell, speaking at the Chamber of Commerce’s economic forum on Wednesday, said government was continuing with the procurement process, and expected to announce a preferred bidder for the project within three weeks.