West Bay West MP McKeeva Bush will be returning as Speaker of the Cayman Islands Parliament after he announced on Monday that he has joined the Wayne Panton-led PACT Independents coalition.
It’s the latest twist in a series of developments since last Wednesday’s inconclusive outcome of the election which resulted in a scramble to form a coalition by two main factions.
One faction was lead by the Progressives and Independents Alliance which jointly campaigned, the other being the PACT group of independent MPs which came together after the election.
In a detailed statement explaining his decision to sign on with the PACT group: “Over the past 3 days, I have been engaged in talks with members of the PACT Independents to end the political stalemate and uncertainty in our beloved islands.”
Mr Bush said he has agreed to be Speaker, giving the PACT group a one-seat majority to form the government, on the basis of several conditions.
• Immediate implementation of a Code of Conduct for all Parliamentarians where any infractions would lead to immediate dismissal from their position.
• 10% of my monthly salary will be donated to the Women’s Crisis Center
• Continue supporting women issues.
Mr Bush’s successful re-election candidacy was clouded by his conviction and suspended sentence last year for assaulting a woman.
Several candidates in the election, including many among the PACT new majority coalition had distanced themselves from him and had voiced their reluctance to serve in a government he was part of.
The decision of the previous government to call the election early also pivoted on a move by some opposition MPs to remove Mr Bush as Speaker in a motion of no confidence.
Commenting on that development today, Mr Biush stated:
“As many of you are aware, Premier Alden McLaughlin asked the Governor 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.”
He went on: “As many of you are aware, many members of the PACT Alliance campaigned against me.”
As explained by Mr Bush, “Like all Caymanians, that is their democratic right to promote their principles and values, and I respect their right to do so.”
In a crucial part of his statement, Mr Bush referred to the incident of last year which led to his conviction and the subsequent swirl of controversy around him, and made this apology:
“I would also like to use this opportunity to apologize for my prior conduct that led to this incident and pledge my commitment to sign the code of conduct once again,” he 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.”
Mr Bush added: “To my family, the people of the Cayman Islands, and in particular the people in my home constituency of West Bay West, I would also like to apologize for my actions and thank you for your prayers, support, and understanding.”
While Mr Bush has listed the condition under which he joined the PACT group, it was not clear if his apology was voluntary or insisted on by his new political affiliates.
Regarding the tense atmosphere of the coalition negotiations, the said: “While the election, and post-election discussions were heated, I am encouraged and inspired by the patriotism of Premier Designate, G. Wayne Panton, members of the PACT Independents, and their families who chose to put aside personal differences in the interest of our country.”
According to Mr Bush, based on the results of the elections, it is clear the voters overwhelmingly want a government led by Independents.”
He said that “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 also appealed to the other elected members of the Alliance “to respect the will of the voters where 12 Independent members were elected in the general election just ended.”
He thanked Premier-designate, G. Wayne Panton and the members of the PACT “for their patience, professionalism, and patriotism for setting aside personal and political differences and agreeing to work together to create a Cayman where everyone will have an equal opportunity to live their best possible lives.”