The People’s Progressive Movement leadership said Tuesday
that it would accept no more than one Cabinet minister from the Coalition for
Cayman-supported group of three elected legislators, as negotiations on a
coalition government wrapped up.
Cayman Islands Premier-elect Alden McLaughlin, who was
expected to be sworn into office with the rest of his colleagues Wednesday at
the Legislative Assembly, said by 3.30pm that he had communicated his ministry
assignments to Cayman Islands Governor Duncan Taylor.
Coalition-supported candidate Tara Rivers was assigned
employment minister as well as the gender affairs ministry under a PPM-led
government, Mr. McLaughlin said.
He said the two other coalition-supported candidates,
Winston Connolly and Roy McTaggart, would not be offered ministerial posts.
However, the premier-elect said the two could be considered for “ministerial
councillor” positions, similar to those created under former Premier McKeeva
Bush’s government. Mr. Bush used the ministerial councillors as a type of
junior minister position to handle certain affairs within his own ministry when
other pressing matters diverted the minister’sattention. Mr. McLaughlin said the
Progressives, who have nine of 18 seats within the legislature, were also
continuing talks with former party member Arden McLean about a potential role
in the government. What that role might be was not clear at press time.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the proposed government lineup
consisted of Mr. McLaughlin as premier and home affairs minister; Cayman Brac
and Little Cayman MLA Moses Kirkconnell as deputy premier, tourism and district
administration minister; George Town MLA Marco Archer as finance minister; and
Bodden Town MLA Wayne Panton as international financial services minister.
Bodden Town MLA Osbourne Bodden was being considered for the
ministry of youth, sports and culture, although by press time that had not been
confirmed. Neither had Ms Rivers’ appointment to a Cabinet post.
It was not stated Tuesday afternoon who the seventh minister
might be if a coalition government could be achieved.
Mr. McTaggart has said he would accept a position in a
government led by Mr. McLaughlin, reversing an earlier position taken by C4C
candidates prior to the election. Mr. Connolly said Tuesday that he “remains
committed” to forming a coalition government.
“I am willing to work with the other independents and the
[People’s Progressive Movement] to form a government that involves independent
members in meaningful roles,” Mr. Connolly said. “It is the duty of an
independent to have an objective voice in government decisions and policies,
free from party-persuasion and influence.
“I will, as I said on the campaign trail, work with anyone
who has the country’s best interests at heart to make our beloved country
Little comment was heard from either Mr. McLean or North
Side lawmaker Ezzard Miller on the talks. The pair issued a joint statement
Monday denying any involvement in attempting to form an alternate government
with former Premier Bush and his United Democratic Party members.
The leader of the Progressives Mr. McLaughlin himself
acknowledged in his press conference this past Saturday that, “Mr. McLean and
Mr. Miller have worked tirelessly over the past four years to rescue our
country from the UDP. For anyone now to suggest that we were conferring with
the UDP is incorrect,” they said in the statement. “And what would be the point
of negotiating with three people who could not form a government?”
West Bay wants Minister Tara
Ms Rivers went to the people in her constituency Monday to
find out if they wanted her to accept the PPM’s offer for her to join as one of
its government ministers.
It was an offer she said she initially refused because Mr.
McLaughlin had made it clear that she was the only independent he would be
inviting to join the otherwise all-PPM Cabinet.
“That, in my estimation, did not represent the coalition
government that we were hoping to achieve,” she told a packed town hall meeting
at the Sir John A. Cumber Primary School in West Bay.
She vied instead for other independents, including her
Coalition for Cayman-backed colleagues Mr. McTaggart and Mr. Connolly, to also
have roles in the government, asking for a meeting of the nine PPM politicians
and five independents in the Legislative Assembly to “determine what was the
best way forward”.
That meeting never happened, but discussions continued
regarding Ms Rivers taking a Cabinet post. “The offer as it stands is pretty
open and they pretty much have said I can choose the areas that I would like
…”, she said, adding that she was willing to serve in whatever capacity the people of West Bay wanted.
She said she and her fellow C4C-endorsed candidates had
campaigned for a coalition government and that was what they still wanted.
Despite her hesitation in accepting a ministerial position,
there was no denying the groundswell of support at the West Bay meeting for Ms
Rivers to take the job. Every person who stood and spoke unequivocally urged
her to accept.
About half way through the meeting, an audience member asked
anyone who believed Ms Rivers should take a ministerial post to stand. Almost
every person in the room rose, cheering and clapping as they did so.
“I guess we can go home now,” joked Ms Rivers.
She made it clear at the beginning of the meeting that she
would not become a PPM member, but would remain an independent within the
Progressives’ majority government.
On stage with Ms Rivers were Paul Rivers and Eddie Thompson,
along with her election running mate Mervin Smith, while other C4C-backed
candidates and elected legislators Mr. McTaggart, Mr. Connolly, Sharon
Roulstone, Jacqueline Haynes and Jude Scott were in the audience.
Compass reporter James Whittaker contributed to this story.