Cayman Islands premier faces no-confidence vote

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 18, 2012 11:58 AM
Cayman Islands premier faces no-confidence vote

By Shurna Robbins

GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands (Reuters) - Five lawmakers from the Cayman Islands' ruling party joined the opposition in calling for a no-confidence vote that appeared likely to oust embattled Premier McKeeva Bush on Tuesday.

The Legislative Assembly was scheduled to meet in a special session to debate the matter at 3 p.m. EST (2000 GMT). The British territory is a major financial center and home to more than half the world's hedge funds.

Including those from the ruling United Democratic Party, 11 lawmakers from the 15-member Legislative Assembly signed a letter calling for the vote. It would take 10 votes to force Bush from office.

Bush, who was arrested last week on suspicion of corruption, has denied wrongdoing and has refused to step down as premier of the Caribbean island chain. His support within his own party has dwindled as the territory prepares for general elections in May.

All four legislators representing the opposition Peoples Progressive Movement signed the letter calling for a vote, as did both independent lawmakers.

Bush, 57, was arrested on December 11 by members of the Financial Crime Unit of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service. He was released on bail until February, pending the possible filing of criminal charges against him.

Authorities have declined to give specific details of the investigation but said it included allegations of theft and misuse of a government credit card.

Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin said last week that allowing Bush to continue as premier after his arrest would undermine confidence in the Cayman Islands.

Ellio Solomon, a ruling-party lawmaker who opposed the call for a no-confidence vote, said it would set a dangerous precedent to remove someone from the highest political office before any charges are filed.

"There are a lot of persons who have concerns about the RCIPS (Royal Cayman Islands Police Service) and the credibility," Solomon said.

Bush has served as premier since 2009 in the Cayman Islands, a three-island territory with about 55,000 residents.

(Editing by Jane Sutton and Will Dunham)