McKeeva Bush is now the former premier of the Cayman Islands and his former deputy, Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, will step in as premier.
The decision was reached Wednesday morning by Governor Duncan Taylor, who rejected calls from both Mr. Bush and opposition party members to dissolve the Legislative Assembly. Instead, Governor Taylor agreed to a new “minority” government with the Cayman Brac and Little Cayman member of the Legislative Assembly, Ms O’Connor-Connolly, as premier. Ms O’Connor-Connolly will also take over the duties of finance minister.
“I am satisfied that the Honourable Juliana O’Connor-Connolly can form a stable, functioning government,” Mr. Taylor said in a statement.
The remaining four members of the United Democratic Party minority government would make up the other ministry positions, with Education Minister Rolston Anglin becoming deputy premier, West Bay MLA Cline Glidden Jr. becoming minister for tourism and development, Mark Scotland staying on as health minister and Dwayne Seymour taking over former Minister Mike Adam’s community affairs and housing responsibilities. The governor’s statement set out the basis for his decision, which means that Cayman will be governed by a minority representative group of just five of 15 LA members.
“Following the passing in the House yesterday of the Motion of lack of confidence in the government, I consulted the Honourable Premier, as required under Section 51(1) of the Constitution,” Mr. Taylor wrote in a statement. “The Premier responded in writing [Wednesday] morning suggesting that I dissolve the Legislative Assembly. After careful consideration and using my discretion as the Constitution entitles me to do, I have decided not to dissolve the Assembly but to revoke the appointment of the Premier. Formal notification of my decision has now been given to him. As a consequence, all Ministers have vacated their office, as required under Section 52(2) of the Constitution.
“Section 49(2) of the Constitution states: ‘Where a political party gains a majority of the seats of elected members of the Legislative Assembly, the Governor shall appoint as Premier the elected member of the Assembly recommended by a majority of the elected members who are members of that party.’ Following representations made to me by a majority of UDP MLAs advising that they support the appointment of Juliana O’Connor-Connolly as Premier of the Cayman Islands, I have this morning appointed her in this capacity. I await her advice on the appointment of Ministers.
“I would like to congratulate the Honourable Juliana O’Connor-Connolly on her appointment as Premier.”
The new government
of the Cayman Islands held its first press conference Wednesday, hours after
being formed, to describe the “difficult” decision its members had made to
remove former Premier Bush from his post and to outline their plans for their
remaining five months in power.
Newly appointed Premier
O’Connor-Connolly vowed that the five-member minority government would operate
a transparent, open-door policy.
The group described
the process that culminated in the five of them making up the new government,
saying all eight UDP elected representatives had agreed on Friday to ask Mr.
Bush to resign. However, only five had followed through on that decision,
leaving them no choice but to support a motion of no confidence in Mr. Bush’s
government and then form a new administration.
said that the government had received assurances from independent and
opposition members that there would be a quorum in parliament so that the
minority government could deal with bills and motions before the House.
New Deputy Premier Anglin
said the situation in which a minority government would operate in parliament
would only be effective for about 100 days, as parliament will dissolve in
March in preparation for the 22 May election.
O’Connor-Connolly said she intended to speak with UK Foreign Office Minister
Mark Simmonds by phone Thursday.
Reached for comment following Governor Taylor’s revocation of his appointment as premier, Mr. Bush said: “It is a flawed process. This is my country and I am not going to do anything to harm it.”
While he did not particularly support the idea of a minority government, Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin said his People’s Progressive Movement party would not seek to obfuscate the proceedings in the assembly for the rest of the government session. Parliament is set to be dissolved in late March ahead of the 22 May general election.
“We intend to support the government in facilitating the business of the House,” Mr. McLaughlin said, noting that the same group of 11 lawmakers who voted in favour of a no confidence motion against the government Tuesday afternoon had signed an agreement to “reasonably cooperate with government” in establishing quorums for future meetings.
The independent political group Coalition for Cayman applauded the governor’s decision which it said “protected the order” of the territory’s normal election process.
“We are hopeful that the MLAs will unite behind the best interests of our country and work together to create solutions,” the coalition statement read. “With our elections in May, we have the opportunity to begin a new era of independent-minded leadership, and to support new leaders of integrity with the skills, character and willingness to make personal sacrifices and serve for the good of our country.”
George Town MLA Ellio Solomon, who was one of the three United Democratic Party representatives who stood with Mr. Bush during Tuesday’s no confidence vote, said Wednesday that he thought the prospect of a minority government operating over the next five months was “just crazy”.
Mr. Solomon, the general secretary of the UDP, described Tuesday’s events as a “game changer” in relation to the UDP party, which he said still fully supported Mr. Bush, despite five of its elected members effectively voting the premier out of office.
Where the manoeuvring within the Legislative Assembly was completed by Wednesday, it left open the question of the United Democratic Party’s future. Just before the no confidence vote was taken, Mr. Bush, Mr. Solomon, Mr. Adam and West Bay MLA Captain Eugene Ebanks moved over to sit in the opposition benches.
“We have a government that has chosen at the end of the day to express a lack of confidence … in the premier and a lack of confidence in themselves,” Mr. Solomon said, explaining why the four UDP members crossed over. “I’m not sure anyone should be seated in that arena because I definitely don’t have a lack of confidence in the premier and I definitely don’t lack confidence in myself.”
The group led by Mr. Bush was also expected to hold a meeting Thursday evening in West Bay to speak to supporters.