Telling a group of Bodden Town supporters that the United Kingdom was merely seeking to further embarrass the Cayman Islands, former Premier McKeeva Bush said he would urge local lawmakers to fight a plan to bring outside observers into Cayman for the 22 May general election.
Mr. Bush said he would file a private members’ motion in the upcoming meeting of the Legislative Assembly asking elected members to reject the election observers proposal.
“These observers usually come from all over the Commonwealth,” Mr. Bush said, addressing a group of a few hundred supporters from a podium Tuesday evening in the parking lot of the Bodden Town post office. “They are only held in countries where the deepest electoral problems exist; none of which exist or existed in these Islands.
“We believe this is only one more attempt to embarrass these Islands and we are going to say no to it.”
Private members’ motions in the Legislative Assembly can be brought by any elected member, whether government backbencher or opposition member. There is no legal effect if the motion is passed, other than to advise the government of members’ wishes on a particular topic.
According to written communications read out by Cayman Islands Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly during a press briefing last week, the UK foreign minister Mark Simmonds asked Cayman to “invite” foreign observers to witness the 22 May general election.
No specific reasons for why the UK would want election observers in Cayman for the 22 May vote were given.
Ms O’Connor-Connolly did not immediately commit to either allowing or not allowing the observers.
“We are not averse to this in principle, even though Cayman has had free and fair elections for decades,” she said. “We need to check if it would comply with Cayman’s Elections Law and it requires very careful presentation or it could be seen as very damaging to our reputation.”
Minister Simmonds said he was “encouraged” to note that Cayman was not averse to the idea. “I support this,” he said. “It is good practice for mature democracies.”
Minister Simmonds noted that other British Overseas Territories, including the British Virgin Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands, had recently entertained overseas observers in their elections.
However, Mr. Bush said Tuesday evening that another British Overseas Territory, Bermuda, recently rejected UK observers during its most recent election cycle without negative effect.
There were no major problems reported during that vote, Mr. Bush said, even though the election led to a major shake-up in power and a switch in political parties leading the territory.
“[Cayman] election officials have always operated at the highest level of integrity and honesty,” Mr. Bush said. “We have nothing to hide, but this request would give a negative impression of these Islands.”
Former Premier Bush made no mention Tuesday night of the criminal investigation proceeding against him, for which he has blamed a conspiracy led by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office that he has said sought to remove him from power.
Mr. Bush was removed as premier following his 11 December arrest in a ‘no confidence’ vote of the majority of Legislative Assembly members.
He has not been charged with any crimes and has denied any criminal wrong-doing.
That 18 December vote led to the formation of Cayman’s current ‘minority government’ of five members who do not represent a majority of the 15 elected members of the house. Mr. Bush has said he believes the current government to be ‘unconstitutional’, but has declined to challenge it in court.