Update: Deal quashed, new deal between PPM and independents leaves Bush out
GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands, Sunday May 28, 2017 – Former Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush will be the next premier of the Cayman Islands, after striking a deal with eight independent candidates who won seats in last week’s general election just hours after announcing that his Cayman Democratic Party (CDP) would join forces with the incumbent People’s Progressive Movement (PPM) to form a new government.
Bush, who served as premier from 2009 to 2012, heads the CDP which won only three of the 19 seats in the Legislative Assembly in last Wednesday’s polls. The PPM of former Premier Alden McLaughlin had won seven seats, and with no outright winner, negotiations were being held among the parties and Independent candidates with the aim of forming a coalition government.
A deal was announced on Friday between the CDP and PPM that would see McLaughlin returned as premier and his long-time political rival Bush appointed as Speaker of the House. A press statement had been issued and there were also photos circulating of the two leaders signing the deal.
However, hours later the agreement was rescinded and Bush said he had formed a “government of national unity”.
“After numerous calls from my West Bay constituencies and from voters across the wider eastern independent representative districts, I, William McKeeva Bush, and my colleagues have therefore withdrawn our support for the PPM to form the next government and have agreed to form the next government with the independent candidates,” Bush said in a statement, adding that the fact people had chosen more independent candidates meant they had a mandate to make a change.
Bush, the longest serving member of the Legislative Assembly, and his two other successful CDP colleagues join eight of the other independents, giving the new government 11 seats in the Legislative Assembly. The ninth independent, Tara Rivers, has not joined the coalition.
Al Suckoo, an independent member of the Legislative Assembly, who was once a member of the PPM, will be Deputy Premier in the new administration.
Reacting to the news, McLaughlin accused Dr Steve Tomlinson, who had financed several independent candidates during the election, for causing the about turn, and warned citizens that it would not end well.
“I am going to stand back and watch this train wreck of a government happen. I have done my best to form a good, stable government, but the unelected Premier Dr Tomlinson has brokered another deal that serves McKeeva’s ambition but will also allow the good doctor to stand outside Cabinet and dictate policy. It is going to be one hell of a ride. We should not expect this government to last very long. Brace for a period of great uncertainty in this country,” he told the Cayman Compass newspaper.