UDP and PPM agree to meet

| 23/09/2008

(CNS): The war of words between opposition and government over constitutional talks escalated yesterday, when the United Democratic Party (UDP) released a statement accusing the People’s Progressive Movement (PPM) of not showing up to a meeting. However, an eleventh-hour public meeting was proposed by government for Thursday in Bodden Town, literally days before the arrival of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office team from London.

While UDP spokesperson Rolston Anglin, West Bay MLA, said that the opposition had not been officially informed of the proposed meeting, he confirmed that the Leader of the Opposition and the UDP members were still happy to go along. “It would have been nice for the government to send the invitation to the meeting to us and wait for our response but we are happy to attend,” said Anglin after the proposed meeting times were sent in a written statement to the press.

The wrangling over meetings started on Friday (19 September) when Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said he had received a letter from  Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush proposing a public meeting between the government, the NGOs and the opposition in the Legislative Assembly building on Monday, 22 September, to begin discussions on the party’s differences over the proposals.

Tibbetts wrote to Bush on the same day, stating that that the government would not be attending for a number of reasons, including that it had no prior knowledge of the date, and the government was still waiting to see a document laying out the opposition’s position on the constitutional proposals.

“You cannot seriously be expecting us to convene a meeting,” he wrote. “Even if you had established a basis for such a meeting by providing us with your position on our Revised Proposals or published proposals of your own, we would require more than a half day’s notice.” He accused Bush of disingenuousness and said it was time to stop playing games.

However, on Monday Bush and his team turned up at the LA with their published proposals, waiting for government representatives who did not show.  “After all theletters and the stated plans by the Government to meet, it is hard to understand why they have not shown up and extremely disappointing,” said Bush who added that the UDP had received a letter from the government at the last minute, stating that they would not attend without first having seen the opposition’s position.

“They wanted to meet with us!  Why are they not here?” asked Mr Bush. “Had they shown up we could at least start the process of planning our discussions and they would have been given copies of our positions and discussion on every single issue laid out in the proposed revisions. Their behaviour in this regard is extremely petty and it really begs the question of whether they fully understand that they are here to represent the people of the Cayman Islands on this major initiative and to put petty politics aside.”

The UDP said it had sent the position paper to the Constitutional Secretariat for forwarding on to the Government as a courtesy. “We have also sent copies to the various NGOs involved and of course we have also presented our paper today to the media for dissemination to the wider public,” Bush added.

On Monday afternoon government confirmed it had received the opposition’s proposals and said although it was disappointing and unfortunate that the opposition had left it to virtually the eleventh hour, the government intended to carefully consider the opposition’s paper with a view to narrowing the differences between the two parties. It proposed a new meeting public meeting date for 10:00 am on Thursday, 25 September, at the Bodden Town Civic Centre.

“I remain optimistic that even at this late state some degree of unity will be achieved by the Cayman delegation in advance of the start of the talks with the UK on Monday,” said the LoGB.

Containing no real suprises,the UDP’s position paper is available on the Constitutional Secretariat website www.constitution.gov.ky . It summarises the points raised in the UDP’s original discussion document, broadly agreeing with a number of governemnt proposals but disagreeing with some of the major points. The paper opposes changing the balance of power between the Governor and elected members, increasing the number of elected officials and placing the Attorney General outside the house. It also states that the bill of rights should be dealt with in separate domestic legislation and should not form part of the constituional document. The opposition is  sticking with its idea of introducing a second chamber in the form of a senate, and also warns the people that a preamble statement has considerably less importnance than people are being led to believe.

 

 

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Comments (3)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    We need to take the little boys out back leave them there to fight it out and bose their own egos while we put a whole NEW government in!! Young, fresh minds, who can take Cayman FORWARD in a positive manner!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    War of Words

    I do not know what the relationship  between the Leader of Government Business and the Leader of the Opposition may be, however, I do not think that labelling it a ‘war’ is good journalism. Even if relations between the two men are heated I am sure that they both think that they are doing the best for their country.

    All our legislators have a duty to the people and must remember that they are there at our mandate to DO THE BEST FOR THE COUNTRY.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Grow up and please stop playing games with our future!