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Mr Golding Should Go

marciadottin, [email protected]

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The ongoing saga in Kingston concerning the request by the United States that Jamaica should allow the extradition of Christopher “Dudus” Coke to the United States is a matter of concern not only to Jamaica but also to the wider Caribbean. Mr Coke, reputedly, a strongman in the West Kingston constituency of which the Prime Minister Bruce Golding, is the parliamentary representative, is wanted, in the USA to face drug and gun running charges there.The matter has become a high political flash point because the request has not been complied with. The back and forth between Washington and Kingston has also commanded the attention of Jamaicans everywhere as well as the foreign press because of allegations that a law firm in the United States had been retained by the Jamaican Government to lobby the United States government on the issue.In Parliament in March, Prime minister Bruce Golding hotly denied that claim, and his JLP government continues to maintain that no law firm was retained by the Government to lobby on this matter. But in the face of mounting public criticism and strident calls for his resignation, Prime Minister Golding addressed the nation earlier this month and admitted that he gave the orders for the US law firm to be contacted to help lobby the USA on the extradition matter. Mr Golding says he made it clear that “it was to be kept completely separate and apart from government”. He said too, that he “later discovered those instructions were not followed. Having sanctioned it, I cannot escape responsibility for it”.We applaud such candour but alas, this was not the total picture. Mr Golding himself in the address to the country said that when he was asked in Parliament in March whether the government had engaged the services of the law firm he had answered truthfully and definitively that it had not done so . . . .And he went on: “It is felt thatI should, there and then, have acknowledged the party initiative ledby Mr Brady. On reflection, I should have, and tonight I express my profound regret, and offer to the parliament and the people of Jamaica my deepest apologies” However, as Mr Goldingalso said in the address, the way the matter was handled, raised the question of trust.In our view, as between the politicians and the people, a bondof trust is the primary condition on which power is given for a limited period. It is a bond which should never be broken in our democratic systems of government without the appropriate penalties being paid, and especially when Prime ministers break thatbond they must answer the call and pay the price.When Mr Golding denied the involvement of the government,we are prepared to accept that he was, as he says, “answering truthfully and definitively”, but we also consider that he should there and then have informed Parliament that in his capacity as leader of the Jamaica Labour Party he gave authorisationfor the USA law firm to lobby Washington on the extradition issue.  It is inconceivable that a prime minister answering in a Parliament based on the traditions of the Westminster system of democracy, would not have adverted his mindto the fact that he had sanctioned the questioned initiative to makethe contact, even if it wasto be undertaken by the party and not on behalf of the government.It is very important that young democracies must clearlyand quickly establish the parameters of conduct which they demandof their leaders; and speaking the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth must not onlybe the hallmark of statements madein our Courts of law but it must also be the first principle by which our leaders speak to us from the floor of our parliaments. The penalty for breaching these standards are well known and mustbe strictly enforced. Mr Golding should go!