Current government was ‘nuclear option’ for Cayman Democratic Party

Documents purporting to draw up a legal agreement for the formation of a coalition government in Cayman following the May 2017 general election surfaced last week, indicating that Cayman Democratic Party officials viewed the current Progressives-led National Unity Government as “the nuclear option” at the time discussions were taking place.

Deputy Opposition Leader Alva Suckoo attempted to table [make public] the records in the Legislative Assembly last week, but Speaker of the House McKeeva Bush said he would not allow certain portions of the papers to form part of the Assembly records because they contained no signatures and could not be authenticated.

Premier Alden McLaughlin also said he did not know the origin of the records when he was asked about them. The Cayman Compass obtained copies of the records last week.

Mr. Suckoo said the various proposals for a CDP-independent coalition government were discussed on May 26, two days after the general election had taken place. Earlier that day, Mr. McLaughlin and Mr. Bush had penned an agreement for a combined CDP-Progressives coalition.

One document Mr. Suckoo possessed, apparently agreed to later in the day by at least some of the elected members, was titled “Agreement for a Unity Government for the Cayman Islands” – dated May 26, 2017 – and was signed by McKeeva Bush, as well as elected MLAs Bernie Bush, Capt. Eugene Ebanks, Kenneth Bryan, Austin Harris, Chris Saunders, Dwayne Seymour and Mr. Suckoo.

The document held by Mr. Suckoo was not signed by veteran MLAs Anthony Eden, Arden McLean or Ezzard Miller, but it was reported at the time that those three had also agreed to join the proposed coalition.

Along with the signed records was another batch of unsigned documents headed by a paper that gave “options for forming a government.”

Speaker McKeeva Bush

This document stated that an “optimal option” for a coalition would result in the CDP and independents coming together under McKeeva Bush as premier “for a minimum of two years.” Under that proposal, the Cabinet, aside from Mr. Bush, would be all independent members, the record stated.

“The CDP is ready and willing to pursue this option, subject the written unity government document,” the paper read, giving the impression that the document was written by CDP officials.

Another coalition government option was contemplated: “The nuclear option, if forced, would result in the CDP joining with the PPM [Progressives] to form a government in the national interest.”

That is what ended up occurring on May 29, with the three CDP members joining the seven-member Progressives and three independent elected members.

CDP Chairwoman Tessa Bodden said last week that she was “not in a position” to comment on the documents Mr. Suckoo presented.

The CDP-independents coalition fell apart over the weekend of May 26-28 and on Monday, May 29, Premier McLaughlin and Speaker Bush signed the definitive governing agreement endorsed by Governor Helen Kilpatrick.

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