The new Cayman Islands cabinet. Front row (L-R): Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, Governor Duncan Taylor and Deputy Premier Rolston Anglin
A day after former Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush was ousted in a vote of no confidence, Governor Duncan Taylor on Wednesday rejected calls from Bush and opposition party members to dissolve the Legislative Assembly and call early elections, opting instead to allow Juliana O’Connor Connolly to form a minority government as the new premier.
“I am satisfied that the Honourable Juliana O’Connor-Connolly can form a stable, functioning government,” Taylor said in a statement.
This means that the Cayman Islands will now be governed by a minority group of just five elected members of the ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) out of the 15-seat assembly.
“Following the passing in the House yesterday of the motion of lack of confidence in the government, I consulted the Honourable Premier, as required under Section 51(1) of the Constitution,” Taylor said in his statement.
He continued: “The Premier responded in writing [Wednesday] morning suggesting that I dissolve the Legislative Assembly. After careful consideration and using my discretion as the Constitution entitles me to do, I have decided not to dissolve the Assembly but to revoke the appointment of the Premier. Formal notification of my decision has now been given to him. As a consequence, all Ministers have vacated their office, as required under Section 52(2) of the Constitution.
“Section 49(2) of the Constitution states: ‘Where a political party gains a majority of the seats of elected members of the Legislative Assembly, the Governor shall appoint as Premier the elected member of the Assembly recommended by a majority of the elected members who are members of that party.’ Following representations made to me by a majority of UDP MLAs advising that they support the appointment of Juliana O’Connor-Connolly as Premier of the Cayman Islands, I have this morning appointed her in this capacity.”
O’Connor-Connolly is the Cayman Islands first woman premier but she has herself come under fire in recent weeks for overspending public funds by racking up travel and accommodation bills of more than US$250,000 since coming to office in May 2009.
At a press briefing on Wednesday, O’Connor-Connolly promised an open, transparent, stable and consultative government to take the Cayman Islands through the next five months before the general election due in May.
The new deputy premier, Rolston Anglin, in turn, has also had his own legal issues since his arrest last May for driving under the influence of alcohol and careless driving. Anglin changed his plea to guilty part way through his trial last month and will return before the magistrate for sentencing in March.
At Wednesday’s press briefing, Anglin acknowledged that he had made a mistake but pointed out that his position was not comparable to that of former premier Bush, who was arrested last week in connection with a number of ongoing police investigations into alleged theft and corruption.
Another new cabinet member, Dwayne Seymour, now minister of community affairs, gender and housing, was charged in 2010 with assault and attempting to obstruct, prevent, pervert or defeat the course of justice in connection with a fight at a local hotel.
A Florida man claimed he was assaulted by Seymour and another man outside the hotel.
Seymour was eventually acquitted of the obstruction charges by a jury and the director of public prosecutions subsequently dropped the assault charges, saying that prosecution was “not in the public interest.”