Government remains in limbo

The Cayman Islands remained on tenterhooks Monday awaiting confirmation of the widely expected departure of McKeeva Bush as premier. 

Elected members of the United Democratic Party continued to meet Monday, without the premier being present, following a series of meetings of its caucus over the weekend. 

They were expected to meet with Governor Duncan Taylor Monday to present the make-up of a reshuffled government. By press time, no meeting between the governor and any members of the Cabinet had been arranged, according to the Governor’s Office. 

Unofficial reports from within the UDP Monday indicated a decision had been made to replace Mr. Bush as premier with Deputy Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly and that Rolston Anglin would be appointed deputy premier. None of those positions were confirmed by Monday afternoon.  

Mr. Bush was also expected to make a statement Monday, but by press time, no statement had been forthcoming from the beleaguered premier. 

All eight remaining elected members of the UDP would need to agree to oust the premier if the party is to continue to serve as the government of the Cayman Islands, as they would still have a majority in the 15-member parliament. 

As of Monday afternoon, the UDP had made no official statement regarding Mr. Bush’s arrest nor the future of the government since Tuesday, 11 December, when the premier was placed under arrest at his home by police on suspicion of corruption and theft.  

The earlier short three-paragraph statement said: “We, as a caucus, were informed [Tuesday] morning that the Hon. Premier was arrested. The matter is the subject of police investigation and no comments relating to the particulars of this matter can be made at this time. We the government fully understand the gravity of this matter. We confirm that caucus is presently convened, and further statements will be issued in due course.” 

If the elected members of the UDP want to remove Mr. Bush and still remain as government, all eight members must band together. If one or more member dissents, the other course of action would be to join with opposition members to form a government. If neither of those options occur, the constitution calls for the governor to dissolve the Legislative Assembly and call elections within two months of the dissolution.  

No charges had been brought against the premier by Monday afternoon. He was arrested at his home in West Bay at 7am on 11 December by officers from the Financial Crime Unit on suspicion of theft in connection with financial irregularities relating to the alleged misuse of a government credit card, as well as breach of trust, abuse of office and conflict of interest, contrary to the Anti-Corruption Law, in connection with the alleged importation of explosive substances without valid permits on or before February 2012.  

After two days of questioning, police released the premier on police bail until early February 2013 “to allow further investigations to take place both here and abroad in connection with the allegations made against him”. 

In police searches, including a search of Mr. Bush’s home in Captain Allie’s Road in West Bay, officers seized what they described as a “considerable amount of property”, including computer equipment. 

The day after being released on bail, Mr. Bush flew to Jamaica to deliver a scheduled commencement address at the University College of the Caribbean in Kingston on the subject of integrity in leadership. He was supposed to receive an honorary doctorate from the university, but the school withheld the honour pending resolution of the criminal investigation. 

Upon his return to Cayman around midnight Friday, he was met by about 100 supporters, but none of his elected UDP colleagues showed up to welcome him back. 

On Friday, Leader of the Opposition Alden McLaughlin applied to Speaker of the House Mary Lawrence to call a special meeting of the Legislative Assembly to debate a no confidence motion against the UDP government.  

Mrs. Lawrence said Monday she had answered the letter from Mr. McLaughlin but had no further comment to make. 

In his letter to the Speaker, Mr. McLaughlin described the current situation as a “matter of the gravest national importance”, which had done harm to Cayman’s credibility as an international business centre. 

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