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Embattled Cayman Islands premier might quit party

Published:Sunday | December 16, 2012 | 12:00 AM
William McKeeva Bush (left)

Byron Buckley, Associate Editor

ALTHOUGH insisting he won't resign as a result of his recent arrest, Cayman Islands Premier William McKeeva Bush says he is considering whether to lead his United Democratic Party into general elections due next March.

There have been calls from the Opposition party in the Cayman Islands for Bush's resignation following his arrest last Tuesday on suspicion of theft, breach of trust, abuse of office and conflict of interest. One of the charges pertains to the unauthorised use of a government credit card. Bush was questioned by the Cayman police and granted bail to appear in court early next year, which will coincide with the election campaign.

"My party and the country come first, and I am giving serious thought if I should continue beyond this term," the 28-year political veteran told The Sunday Gleaner on Thursday while visiting Jamaica as keynote speaker at a University College of the Caribbean commencement ceremony.

Could hurt country

But his political rivals think Bush's continuation as head of the Cayman Islands, with corruption charges hanging over his head, could damage the country's reputation as a tax haven.

"We are not prejudging the guilt or innocence of Mr Bush. That is a matter for a court of law, should he eventually be charged and prosecuted," said head of the Cayman opposition Alden McLaughlin, according to the Caymanian Compass, a local newspaper.

"In the interests of the Cayman Islands, I call on the members of the Cabinet ... to take the necessary steps to remove Mr McKeeva Bush as premier," added McLaughlin.

However, Bush accuses Cayman Islands governor, Duncan Taylor, of having a "vendetta" against him and for undermining the country's economy.

"He has stopped every project that we try to put forward. He has caused our economy to deteriorate," the 57-year-old premier told The Sunday Gleaner.

Bush, who holds the finance portfolio in the Cabinet, highlighted the financial achievements of his administration, including the recent signing of agreements with European banks to strengthen his country's status as a leading tax haven.