Ousted premier cries foul
Cayman Islands Governor Duncan Taylor has denied claims by ex-Premier McKeeva Bush that the governor had somehow acted unconstitutionally by appointing a local government with only five members.
Typically, to form a government in a 15-member legislature, Cayman Islands ruling administrations have had to comprise at least eight elected members.
However, following a no confidence vote against Mr. Bush on 18 December, Mr. Taylor said he took legal advice and was confident in his decision to create a minority government up through the scheduled 22 May general election.
“I am entirely satisfied that the appointment of the new government is in line with the requirements of the constitution,” Mr. Taylor said. “My main aim in taking my decision was to ensure that we had a stable government in place.”
Mr. Taylor reiterated his view that new Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly can maintain a stable regime until the election.
“You refer to a ‘tentative minority government’,” the governor said, referencing questions the Caymanian Compass asked about the situation earlier in the week. “My observation in its first two days is that the new government led by the Honourable Premier, Juliana O’Connor-Connolly is anything but tentative.”
Section 49 (2) of the Cayman Islands 2009 Constitution Order 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 members of the assembly recommended by a majority of the elected members who are members of that party.”
Since five of the nine members of the United Democratic Party government – which fractured after the no confidence vote against Mr. Bush – chose Ms O’Connor-Connolly as premier, Mr. Taylor said, it was so ordered.
On Thursday night, Mr. Bush said he believed that decision was “ultra vires the rules of the constitution”. Ultra vires is a Latin phrase meaning “outside the law”.
Mr. Bush said Thursday the appointment of a five-person minority government to run Cayman’s affairs until the 22 May elections represented an “undemocratic and unconstitutional decision” by Governor Taylor.
“The constitution can’t be half right and half wrong,” Mr. Bush said. “It can’t be right to revoke my appointment, but say that five Cabinet members is a majority.
“I am going to insist that the constitution must be upheld,” he said, although the premier did not mention any specific remedies he might seek for what he believed to be the unconstitutional act.
Whether the five elected members of the minority government would remain in the United Democratic Party beyond this week was also seriously in doubt.
The five have been summoned to a meeting of the United Democratic Party later this month that will consider their removal from the political party.
According to correspondence obtained by the Caymanian Compass last week, matters to be discussed during the Saturday, 29 December, meeting are the removal from the membership of the UDP on a complaint of “undesirable conduct”.
The letter goes on to state that the complaint pertains to “your support of a no confidence vote against the government without first having the concurrence of the [UDP] General Council”.
The Compass only obtained one of the letters sent to a government member, but it was understood all five had received similar communication.
During a media conference last week, the five members of the ruling minority government indicated that they were largely uncertain of any future role they might have in the UDP, whose leader, Mr. Bush, was deposed by the no confidence vote.
Premier O’Connor-Connolly said in Thursday’s editions of the Caymanian Compass that her government was prepared to take the risk of removal from its former party due to the no confidence vote.