Panton meets governor as independents announce coalition

The successful independent candidates in Wednesday’s general election have announced that they have joined forces and intend to form Cayman’s new government, with Wayne Panton as premier.

Chris Saunders will be deputy premier and Alric Lindsay will be brought in as an outside Speaker, according to a press release from the group.

The government will also include Kenneth Bryan, Bernie Bush, Katherine Ebanks-Wilks, André Ebanks,  Sabrina Turner, Isaac Rankine, Jay Ebanks and Heather Bodden, the release stated.

The Governor’s Office confirmed in a statement that Panton met with Governor Martyn Roper at his office this morning and presented a letter confirming he has the support of the majority of elected members and intends to form a government.

Panton said he has asked for the governor to call a session of Parliament at 10am next Wednesday where he expects to be sworn in as premier, along with his team.

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McKeeva Bush and Dwayne Seymour are the only ‘independents’ not listed as part of the new coalition that appears to have been negotiated overnight.

The Progressives alliance had been confident of leading a coalition after securing eight seats in the election Thursday. But Panton appears to have pulled together the 10 members needed to get a majority. Until a government is officially sworn in, however, there remains the possibility of changes.

Panton said in the release, “The elections are over, the people have spoken, and it is time to get on with the business of making people’s lives better.

“I am delighted, impressed, and inspired by the level of maturity shown by the elected independent members to put aside political differences that arose on the campaign to work in the best interest of our islands.

“All of us who decided to step into the public arena did so to make a positive difference to the communities we serve.”

Wayne Panton celebrates his win in Newlands last night. – Photo: Seaford Russell Jr.

The rules of Parliament allow for an unelected speaker to be nominated to preside over the House and Panton indicated that Alric Lindsay, who lost a close race in George Town South last night, would take that position.

“Many good people were unsuccessful at the polls but still have a lot to offer. Alric Lindsay is one such individual,” he said. “As Speaker of the House, he will bring the much needed articulation and maturity to the role.”

Panton said the government would be dubbed PACT – People-driven, Accountable, Competent and Transparent.

“We are all humbled by the electorate’s trust and recognise that we have much work to do and are ready and willing to work on your behalf,” he said.

He added, “I am tremendously proud that the 10 independent candidates have joined together, in a decisive and cohesive fashion, to commence the process of forming a new government.

“Although PACT has the majority and are committed to that as a government, we will demonstrate to the country a refreshing and new approach by being open to other elected members joining in order to carry out the wishes of the electorate to form an inclusive coalition to work in the best overall interests of the country.’’

The announcement is in stark contrast to the jubilant scenes at the Progressives party headquarters last night, where leader Roy McTaggart appeared confident of forming a  government after getting all seven incumbent MPs and alliance partner Dwayne Seymour elected.

But after overnight talks, 10 of the independents appear to have come together to form Cayman’s next government.

Panton and his colleagues were huddling this afternoon at the White House, formerly the DMS building in George Town. He referred reporters to his written statement as he left the building just before 5:30pm.

The 10 independent candidates listed as the new government are:

G. Wayne Panton – MP Elect, Newlands
Christopher Selvin Saunders – MP Elect, Bodden Town West
Johany S. ‘Jay’ Ebanks – MP Elect, North Side
Kenneth Vernon Bryan – MP Elect, George Town Central
Isaac Douglas Rankine – MP Elect, East End
Bernie Alfredo Bush – MP Elect, West Bay North
Katherine Ebanks-Wilks – MP Elect, West Bay Central
André Martin Ebanks – MP Elect, West Bay South
Sabrina Turner – MP Elect, Prospect
Heather Dianne Bodden – MP Elect, Savannah

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