Five days after being voted in by the biggest turnout in Cayman’s election history, the newly elected Members of the Legislative Assembly were sworn in at a ceremony on the steps of the parliament building on Wednesday morning.
With members still wearing their party colours on their ties, the 15 legislators took their oaths before Governor Stuart Jack, and a crowd of around 1,000 people who gathered in central George Town. It was the first time the ceremony was held outdoors.
The first to take the oath of allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II was Chief Secretary George McCarthy, followed by Solicitor General Cheryll Richards and Financial Secretary Kenneth Jefferson. McKeeva Bush, the new Leader of Government Business and head of the United Democratic Party, was the first of the elected MLAs to be sworn in.
After the swearing in was completed, Mr. Jack told the MLAs: ‘I hope, in four years, in 2013… when the next election takes place, you will be able to look back with pride on what you have achieved.’
He congratulated election officials and volunteers, and the police, on their work throughout the elections.
He also thanked the unsuccessful candidates, saying they had played an important part in the islands’ democratic process.
He said the Legislative Assembly faced big challenges ahead, among those the implementation of the new constitution, which was chosen by the electorate in a referendum on Election Day on 20 May.
‘I am sure there will also be some big and sudden challenges that no one who is here this morning could possibly predict,’ the governor said in his speech.
Mr. Jack, who is due to leave Cayman at the end of November, said he was sorry he would not be in Cayman throughout the parliamentary term, but added: ‘I look forward very much to working with you very closely during the rest of my time as governor. I wish you every success.’
Duncan Taylor will take over as governor in January.
The MLAs took their new seats within the Legislative Assembly chamber, with members of the People’s Progressive Party taking seats on the opposite side of the room that they had been used to over the past four years.
Once inside, the business of selecting and swearing in a new Speaker of the House, Mary Lawrence, was carried out.
Despite no dissention on her selection, Mr. Bush called for a vote ‘out of an abundance of caution’, he said. Mrs. Lawrence, who replaces Edna Moyle as Speaker, was unanimously supported and was sworn in by Mr. Jack.
Mrs. Lawrence, in her introductory speech as the new Speaker, declared she would have ‘little tolerance’ for personal attacks or abuses of power from members during her term.
She is the first Speaker of the House not to be chosen from among elected MLAs.