Cabinet posts for Kurt Tibbetts and Tara Rivers
Premier elect Alden McLaughlin confirmed Tuesday night that he had formed a government with the final cards falling into place on the eve of Wednesday’s official swearing-in ceremony.
In a day filled with significant developments Independent member for West Bay Tara Rivers confirmed she had accepted a cabinet post in Mr. McLaughlin’s government.
Ms Rivers, who will remain an independent legislator, will be minister of Labour and Gender Affairs, with the rest of the cabinet positions filled by PPM members.
In addition to the portfolios announced on Saturday, Osbourne Bodden will take the education ministry with former leader Kurt Tibbetts taking health (see full list of cabinet posts below).
Earlier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, the former Premier and previously a key figure in the United Democratic Party, was confirmed as having crossed the floor to join the Progressives.
The party now commands a 10-8 majority in the Legislative Assembly banishing any doubts about its ability to govern effectively and firming up Mr. McLaughlin’s position as Premier without the need for a recorded vote in the Legislative Assembly.
Winston Connolly, another independent member endorsed by the Coalition for Cayman, was also confirmed as having joined the government. He will assist as a counselor in Ms Rivers’ ministry.
Roy McTaggart has been appointed as chairman of the Public Accounts Committee. He was still pondering whether to sit on the opposition benches or to join the government last night, according to Mr. McLaughlin.
Mr. McLaughlin said the independent members had bargained hard for positions. But he insisted he had never considered offering more than one cabinet position outside of his PPM team.
“Every one of our team is capable of being a cabinet minister. They (the independents) fought very hard for the right to sit at the table where they could be considered for a cabinet post
“We wanted to be as inclusive as possible but we were not going to give away what we had earned through our hard fought victory.”
The political future of the two other independents Ezzard Miller and Arden McLean remained up in the air as it emerged that Mr. Miller had turned down the chance to be deputy speaker.
Moses Kirkconnell, who will be deputy premier, held talks with both Mr’ Miller and Mr. McLean earlier on Tuesday.
He said discussions were still ongoing with Mr McLean about a possible role in the government but nothing had been agreed.
Mr. McLaughlin said his government was not technically a ‘coalition government’ with Ms O’Connor-Connolly’s decision to join the PPM meaning the party now held an overall majority of elected members.
But he said he had wanted to form an ‘inclusive government’, hence the offer to Ms Rivers and the role for Winston Connolly.
He said he had spoken at length with Mr. Connolly, a critic of his during the campaign, and they had agreed they could work together in spite of some differences of opinion.
He added: “We are now in a position to move ahead with the swearing in ceremony tomorrow (Wednesday) and proceed with the business of government.
“This concludes what has been a very tense and intense period of negotiations and I am delighted that we have managed to confirm our government, all be it right on the eve of the swearing-in.”
Alden McLaughlin – Premier and Minister of Home Affairs
Moses Kirkconnell – Deputy Premier, Minister of Tourism and District Administration
Marco Archer – Minister of Finance, Development and Planning
Kurt Tibbetts – Minister of Health, Works, Agriculture and Community Affairs
Wayne Panton – Minister of Financial Services
Osbourne Bodden – Minister of Education and Sports
Tara Rivers – Minister of Labour and Gender Affairs