Opposition calls for 2008 elections

The Opposition United Democratic Party is calling for the next general elections to be held in November 2008.

‘2008, we can’t wait,’ said Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush during the during the ceremony to mark the official opening of the office of the Leader of the Opposition and of the District of West Bay Members of the Legislative Assembly last Thursday.

‘The constitution says elections should be held every four years,’ Mr. Bush said.

The last general elections were held in May 2005, six months after they were scheduled to be held as a result of the effects of Hurricane Ivan in September 2004.

Mr. Bush said the next elections were supposed to be held in November 2008, not in May 2009 or later.

‘My understanding from the Governor (Dinwiddy) was that whoever won the election would have a shorter time in order to get it back on track,’ he said. ‘I believe we need to do that.’

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts denied there was any such understanding.

‘I never heard of any such thing,’ he said.

Cabinet Minister Charles Clifford noted during the Cabinet press briefing on Friday that Mr. Bush suggested in a letter to the editor in the newspaper last week that the elections would be held in 2008.

Mr. Clifford wanted to make sure people did not think that the Government had agreed to hold the elections earlier than when they were due.

‘Elections are not constitutionally due before 2009,’ he said. ‘But obviously, discussions will be held between now and then.’

The People’s Progressive Movement government has suggested in the past that the best time to hold the elections would be November 2009.

Mr. Tibbetts has said in the past that the problem with holding the elections in May 2009, or four years after the last elections, is that they come too close to the beginning of the new financial year on 1 July and a new government would not have enough time to develop a proper budget. Mr. Tibbetts said the only way to avoid that pitfall was to change the government’s financial year back to the calendar year as it was before 2003, which would be disruptive to government.

Mr. Bush said the elections should not go beyond May 2009, and that if they waited until then, it would not bring the elections back on track.

The opening of the West Bay MLA office, which is located on the corner of Town Hall Road and West Church Street in Centennial Square, attracted a large crowd that spilled out onto the sidewalks. Although MLA Cline Glidden said the opening was not intended to be political, it took the air of a political public meeting.

Other announcements made during the event also seemed to indicate the West Bay representatives were already beginning to focus on the next election campaign.

Mr. Bush said he intended to open a national office in George Town and to start making regular visits to other parts of the island.

‘I’m going to go to each district as often as possible to meet residents who need our services,’ he said.

Mr. Glidden said it was time for the Opposition to act.

‘We feel we’ve given the Government enough time to do what they promised and make Cayman a better place,’ he said. ‘But they’ve had two years and they made Cayman a worse place.’

Fellow MLA Rolston Anglin said some people had been asking if the West Bay representatives were even still together.

‘As this office signifies, we work as a team to get things done,’ he said.