Leader of the Cayman Islands Official Parliamentary Opposition, Arden McClean, is stepping up the pressure on Premier Alden McLaughlin to remove Speaker of Parliament, McKeeva Bush.
There have been calls from several quarters for Mr Bush to step down or be relieved of his duties in the Speaker’s chair following his conviction on a series of assault charges stemming from an incident last February.
In a statement, Mr McClean details correspondence exchanged with the Premier over the matter and chides him for failing to act.
He said he had delayed writing to the Premier on the grounds that Mr McLaughlin would have needed time to discuss Speaker Bush’s recent convictions.
However, the Opposition Leader said, “it soon became apparent that the Premier had no intention of removing Speaker Bush; despite the continued public outrage and Speaker Bush's subsequent convictions.”
He said he wrote to the Premier on December 24th 2020 “asking him to exercise the leadership needed and remove Speaker Bush” but said the reply he received on January 4th did not address his concerns and instead questioned his authority.
“The Premier's response displays a breath-taking level of contempt for the thousands of decent, hard-working Caymanians rightly offended and appalled that Speaker Bush continues to hold not only the highest post in Parliament but also the full support of the Premier and his Unity Government,” Mr McClean said.
The Premier’s response released by the Opposition Leader, show Mr McLaughlin stating: “Reports recently made to me bring into question on whose behalf your letter has been written, and indeed raise concerns about your authority to write in such terms on behalf of the Official Opposition,” the Premier wrote.
It continued: “Consequently, before I respond substantively I would be grateful if you would confirm which members of the Official Opposition support your demand for the removal of Speaker Bush.”
The Premier also referred to the relevant section of the constitution and points out to Mr McClean that “as Leader of the Official Opposition you must continue to enjoy the support of the majority of members of the Parliament who are in opposition to the government.”
Mr McLaughlin, who leads the People’s Progressive Party(PPM) coalition Unity government with the support of independent members, ended his letter by challenging the Leader of the Official Opposition “to confirm that is still the case” that has he has the support of the majority of opposition MPs.
The opposition in Parliament is split into factions of the Official Opposition led by Mr McClean and independent opposition members. One of them, MP Ezzard Miller has been very vocal in demanding Mr Bush’s ouster as Speaker.
Commenting on the Premier’s letter, Official Opposition Leader McClean said:
“The Premier’s willingness to sacrifice his integrity/principles on the altar of political expediency should worry him.”
He also posited that with a general election due in four months, “ it is quite clear that current members of this Unity Government are only united in their desire to protect their self-interests.”
“No Member of Parliament should be allowed to remain in a publicly funded position following a guilty conviction, much less one involving violence against women. The Premier's refusal to remove Speaker Bush, whilst clearly politically convenient, lacks integrity and is an act of cowardice," Mr McClean concluded.
When the issue of Speaker Bush’s tenure was put to Premier McLaughlin during a recent event, his response was: “I am not sure that the country will be well served now by my taking action which precipitates the collapse of the government and the holding of early elections, so we have to bear that in mind.”
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