Cayman Islands lawmakers voted 11-3 Tuesday afternoon in favour of a “no confidence” motion against the ruling government.
Premier McKeeva Bush abstained from voting on the motion.
For the first time since the so-called 2001 government “coup d’etat”, lawmakers have effectively removed the head of the current administration, Premier McKeeva Bush. Ironically, it was the 2001 change in government that vaulted Mr. Bush to power as Leader of Government Business.
At the start of the meeting around 3.30pm, Premier Bush and three members of his government – Cabinet Minister Mike Adam, West Bay Member of the Legislative Assembly Capt. Eugene Ebanks and George Town MLA Ellio Solomon, moved to the opposition benches.
Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin started the meeting by stating he was bringing the no confidence motion “with a heavy heart”.
“I am deeply saddened that we have come to this point,” he said. “I cannot say how disappointed I am that the premier has brought us to this point … the reality that faced with all of this, the premier will still cling … to the Office of Premier.”
“What has happened over the past week is certainly a breakdown that could have been avoided,” said Health Minister Mark Scotland during his debate on the no confidence motion.
No one else rose to speak on the motion before the House; a fact which Mr. McLaughlin said he was “disappointed in”.
“I have grave concerns at what I regard as the abdication of the responsibly on the part of the premier and those who are supporting him for … not providing an explanation for why we have had to go through this painful process,” Mr. McLaughlin said.
Early on Tuesday, a written requisition asking for the special meeting was signed by 11 members of the House, according to Mr. McLaughlin.
Signing the document were all four members of the opposition People’s Progressive Movement party, the Legislative Assembly’s two independent members and five members of the ruling United Democratic Party government. Members of the ruling government who signed the document included Education Minister Rolston Anglin, Deputy Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, Health Minister Scotland, Bodden Town MLA Dwyane Seymour and West Bay MLA Cline Glidden, Jr.
A statement sent out to the media by Mr. Anglin noted that the meeting was “for the expressed purpose of debating a Lack of Confidence in the Government Motion brought by the Hon. Leader of the Opposition [Mr. McLaughlin] and seconded by the Elected Member from North Side [Ezzard Miller].”
The remaining MLAs who did not sign the document requesting the meeting were Cabinet Minister Adam, Mr. Ebanks and Mr. Solomon.
A requisition containing at least seven signatures does require the house speaker to call a special meeting of the LA. A total of 10 “yes” votes – a two-thirds majority – is needed to remove the sitting government.
Mr. Solomon said before the meeting that he would absolutely not vote to support the no confidence motion and would not rejoin the UDP after such a vote, if it was successful.
“This puts the government and more importantly the country in a very precarious position,” Mr. Solomon said, adding that no one was certain what government would look like after such a no confidence vote. “We’re essentially casting this vote, not even knowing what the government will be afterward.”
Premier Bush has not commented on the recent motion for a vote of no confidence that was filed by Mr. McLaughlin in the House last week.
Mr. McLaughlin said that the legislature could decide to meet as a “minority government” in the short term, taking the territory through to the May 2013 elections. That means neither side would have at least eight members in its ranks and any votes taken on laws would require at least some support from the opposition benches to pass.
“There will probably be only one more sitting of the House [before it is due to be dissolved in late March],” he said. “This could only be done for a short period of time.”
North Side MLA Ezzard Miller also lauded members of the United Democratic Party for stepping forward to support the meeting.
In an e-mail to supporters early Tuesday, Mr. Miller wrote: “By new [sic] time tomorrow the reign of Mac will be history and Cayman can move on demonstrating to the people, investors and other regulatory agencies that the rule of law holds all the power in Cayman.”