West Bay West MP McKeeva Bush issued a fresh apology for his assault on a woman last year as he confirmed signing on to be House Speaker in Wayne Panton’s coalition of independents in a move that could help them secure the government.
As part of his deal Bush promised to donate 10% of his salary to the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre as well as commit to the immediate implementation of a code of conduct for all Parliamentarians “where any infractions would lead to immediate dismissal from their position”.
Bush, in a statement issued Monday together with Panton’s announcement of his Cabinet assignments, said he formally apologised “for my prior conduct that led to this incident and pledge my commitment to sign the code of conduct once again”.
The deal between Bush and Panton’s coalition of independents remains provisional until it is finalised through a vote in Parliament.
Prior to this statement Monday, Bush, who pleaded guilty in court to the offence, had sought to defend his actions in the incident which occurred last February at Coral Beach. He was convicted and given a suspended sentence. He was also placed under house arrest.
Bush, who was re-elected by 27 votes over his opponent Mario Ebanks, said, “while I cannot change what happened in the past, I can learn from my mistakes and hope that my actions going forward also serve as an example for others to follow”.
In his statement, Bush confirmed that over the past three days he engaged in talks with members of the PACT independents “to end the political stalemate and uncertainty in our beloved islands”.
Progressives leader Roy McTaggart confirmed Sunday his party did not meet with Bush to secure his support to form a government.
Bush, in his statement, pledged to “continue supporting women issues”.
He acknowledged that issues surrounding his assault conviction prompted Premier Alden McLaughlin to dissolve the Parliament and call an early general election “to resolve, in his opinion, the issue surrounding my personal conduct with the voters making their wishes known”.
Panton, who was visible at the forefront of the #sheissupported movement calling for Bush’s removal as Speaker, had campaigned on the basis that he would not work with Bush.
In his statement, Bush acknowledged that many members of the PACT alliance campaigned against him.
“Like all Caymanians, that is their democratic right to promote their principles and values, and I respect their right to do so,” Bush said.
However, he said he was “encouraged and inspired by the patriotism” of the PACT independents, and their families “who chose to put aside personal differences in the interest of our country”.
In his one-page-long statement, issued together with Panton’s PACT announcement, Bush asked for other MPs in the Progressives-led team “to respect the will of the voters where 12 Independent members were elected in the general election just ended”.
Bush implored the MPs to act “for their love of country, respect, and reputation of our islands” and to maintain Cayman’s reputation as a stable democracy and to congratulate Panton and the members of the PACT independents on forming the next government.
“Based on the results of the elections, it is clear the voters overwhelmingly want a government led by Independents and as the duly elected member for West Bay West, who also ran as an Independent, it is my constitutional responsibility to respect the will of the Caymanian people,” he added.
Cayman Voices, the group most vocal against Bush’s return to Parliament, has said it will be issuing a statement on this latest development.