Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush is going nowhere.
“I shall not be resigning as premier,” Mr. Bush said in a prepared statement released Thursday morning. “I also wish to assure one and all that the government continues to operate as normal.
“On the advice of my attorney and given the circumstances, I am unable to comment any further at this time. However, I will make further statements in due course.”
Mr. Bush thanked his supporters, friends and family “especially those in the district of West Bay” for their prayers, visits and words of encouragement.
The premier said he would travel to Jamaica, as previously scheduled, to accept conferral of an honourary doctorate from the University College of the Caribbean and to give the commencement address at the school on Thursday.
“I feel obligated to honour this commitment and have decided to attend,” Mr. Bush said. “I will be returning to the Island this Friday [today].”
It was not clarified by press time whether Mr. Bush would still receive the honourary doctorate. University officials told the Caymanian Compass Tuesday that they “noted” the recent developments with regard to Mr. Bush and that the univeristy advisory board had made “no further decision beyond the adjustments to the commencement ceremony”. The university had said Tuesday that the school’s chancellor would speak at commencement Thursday.
As it turned out, Mr. Bush did give the commencement address. However, the Associated Press reported that the honourary doctorate degree had been withheld.
Premier Bush was arrested Tuesday morning on suspicion of corruption and theft offences. He has not been charged with any crimes.
According to a statement released Tuesday by the RCIPS: “The premier of the Cayman Islands, McKeeva Bush, 57, has been arrested and is currently detained in police custody in connection with a number of ongoing police investigations.
“Officers from the RCIPS Financial Crime Unit arrested Mr. Bush at around 7am at his home in West Bay.
Mr. Bush has been arrested on suspicion of theft in connection with financial irregularities relating to the alleged misuse of a Government credit card, and breach of trust, abuse of office and conflict of interest, contrary to Section 13, Section 17 and Section 19 of the Anti-Corruption Law 2008, in connection with the alleged importation of explosive substances without valid permits on or before February 2012.”
Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin issued an ultimatum that Premier Bush step aside in a broadcast statement Thursday evening.
“In the interests of the Cayman Islands, I call on the members of the Cabinet: Hon Julianna O’Connor-Connolly; Hon Rolston Anglin, Hon. Mike Adam, Hon. Mark Scotland and the government back-bench, Hon. Cline Glidden, Capt. Eugene Ebanks, Mr. Dwayne Seymour and Mr. Ellio Solomon to take the necessary steps to remove Mr. McKeeva Bush as Premier and a minister of the Cabinet and appoint another of their number as Premier in his stead.” Mr. McLaughlin said.
“If they do not do so by 3pm [Friday], I intend to immediately petition the Speaker of the House to call a special meeting of the Legislative Assembly early next week to consider the recent arrest of the Premier and his suitability to continue as Premier as a matter of urgent national importance.
“Should the Speaker decline to exercise her discretion to call a Special Meeting, I shall endeavour to obtain the signatures of at least 7 members of the House to compel the Speaker to do so. We will then proceed to file a Lack of Confidence motion to be debated in the Legislative Assembly which will give every member the opportunity to declare publicly where they stand on this critically important issue.”
News of the arrest, long-rumoured in the wake a various criminal investigations proceeding against Premier Bush, circulated around the globe within hours.
A UDP source who spoke to the Caymanian Compass on condition of anonymity expressed surprise at the allegations of misuse of a government credit card, which they noted had been “cleared up” by Premier Bush some time ago.
Allegations in relation to the explosives importation had been noted among three separate criminal investigations linked to the premier by Governor Duncan Taylor and Police Commissioner David Baines in April of this year.
According to an earlier statement released on the explosives matter: “Allegations have been made in relation to the involvement of the premier in the periphery of a recent incident where a quantity of explosives were imported to the Cayman Islands without the necessary permit.” Local business Midland Acres was fined a total of $1,300 after its director, Suresh Prasad, entered pleas of guilty on the quarrying company’s behalf to four charges of importing explosives without a permit. At the conclusion of matters, charges against Mr. Prasad personally were left “on file”.
Mr. Prasad was also arrested Tuesday in connection with the investigation into the premier and on suspicion of various violations of the Cayman Islands Anti-Corruption Law. He also has not been charged with any crimes.