Update 5.30pm: Wayne Panton confirmed he met with rival Roy McTaggart Saturday but said the meeting lasted just 15 minutes and claimed the Progressives leadership had not yet “accepted the results of the elections.”
The Progressives had earlier issued a statement on the meeting saying it was designed to “discuss the possibility of forming a coalition government”.
Panton issued his own release, from the “office of the Premier designate” later on Saturday giving a different take on the talks. He said the aim of the meeting was to give the party an “opportunity” to have representation in his government.
With 12 independent candidates prevailing and seven Progressive members, he said it was the “will of the people” that the next government be led by independents.
The Progressives had a pre-election partnership with Dwayne Seymour, an independent who was health minister in the last administration, while Isaac Rankine, the newly elected East End representative has also agreed to join their group. Rankine earlier partnered with Panton’s team.
Negotiations have been continuing and alliances shifting but the rival groups were understood to be locked at 9-9 on Friday, with former Speaker of the House McKeeva Bush, who has also had talks with Panton, still publicly unattached to either coalition.
Panton appeared confident of forming a government with or without the Progressives.
He stated, “My team have asked that we make the best efforts to have a government that is robust, reflective and inclusive of the broadest cross section of our community, including Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. It is on that basis that I approached the Progressives.
“Unfortunately, it is clear they have not yet accepted the results of the elections and the will of the people and the meeting ended after 15 minutes.”
He added, “My team is busy meeting over the weekend finalising the composition of the Cabinet and expects to make an announcement on Monday.”
Progressives leader Roy McTaggart said this afternoon that he has met with Wayne Panton, the leader of a group of independents, to discuss the possibility of forming a coalition government.
With the two sides deadlocked, the leaders are said to be exploring the possibility of a partnership.
McTaggart released a brief statement, saying, “Today I met with Wayne Panton to discuss the possibility of forming a coalition government between the Progressives Alliance and the Independents who are still a part of his group. Negotiations are ongoing.
“I will make a further announcement as soon as there is something to advise.”
Neither Panton or the independent group have officially confirmed or commented on the talks at this point.
In the days that followed the election, both men have put together coalitions in an effort to lead a government.
McTaggart had appeared confident of adding at least two independents to his ‘alliance’ after the results came in Wednesday night, stating he hoped to form a ‘broad coalition’.
But it was Newlands legislator Panton who was the first to assemble a team of 10, going to Governor Martyn Roper Thursday morning with a proposal for a coalition government that included all of the unaffiliated independent members, with the exception of McKeeva Bush.
However, that partnership, dubbed PACT, crumbled as the day unfolded, with East End representative Isaac Rankine, who the Progressives say had previously agreed to work with them, and Prospect’s Sabrina Turner switching sides.
Turner announced Friday night she is back with Panton and his team.
As of Friday night, the rival groups were locked at 9-9, with former Speaker of the House McKeeva Bush, who had talks with Panton on Friday, still publicly unattached to either coalition.
Panton, in his initial statement on Thursday morning, had suggested he was open to offering positions in his government to members of the Progressives. At that time, he was speaking from a position of strength as the ‘premier designate’, and he remains the only figure to have gone to the governor with expressions of support from 10 members.
Allegiances have shifted since that time, however, and it is as yet unclear who would emerge as premier in the coalition apparently under discussion today.
Panton has not yet commented on the talks.