Source AP ©

British Virgin Islands proposes new constitution

A proposed constitution reducing the crown's authority reflects the British Virgin Islands' "political maturity".

The draft document, which was negotiated with London and seems assured passage in the legislature following debate scheduled for this week, requires final approval from Britain's Privy Council.

The Caribbean territory of 24,000 people already enjoys self-governance over most internal matters but will gain more autonomy under the new charter, which requires the monarchy-appointed governor share the chairmanship of a new Cabinet with an elected premier.

"The Cabinet system speaks to our political maturity as a territory," said government spokeswoman Sandra Ward.

The revised constitution also would eliminate the governor's veto power and establish that only Virgin Islanders by birth or descent could hold legislative seats.

The territory revised the last constitution, which took effect in 1977, in response to an invitation sent to all British overseas territories in 2001.

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