Jamaica’s ruling party has announced that Prime Minister Bruce Golding will step down in November following fears of a forceful ouster by ruling members of his party.
Golding said in a statement released by the party, "The challenges of the last four years have taken their toll and it was appropriate now to make way for new leadership to continue the programmes of economic recovery and transformation while mobilizing the party for victory in the next general elections."
Golding has been in office since 2007, but his leadership has been under scrutiny since 2009 when critics slammed his handling of the U.S. extradition of Jamaican drug lord Christopher “Dudus” Coke.
Golding came under fire for blocking the extradition of the drug kingpin; allowing the contracting of a law firm to lobby Washington to drop their request for extradition of the powerful kingpin and resisting Coke’s extradition for nine months, on grounds that the gun and drug trafficking charges Coke faced in the U.S. relied on illegal wiretap evidence.
The situation worsened as Coke’s eventual capture and extradition led to days of violent fighting in May 2010 that resulted in the deaths of at least 73 civilians and three security officers. Suspicion was rife about Golding’s connections to Coke as his Parliament district included Coke’s West Kingston stronghold and analysts say Golding’s election would not have been possible without Coke’s support.
Golding offered to step down last year after the extradition, but the party rejected his attempt to leave. The prime minister’s replacement will be decided upon in November at the Labor party’s next annual general conference.
(Photo: SHEN HONG/Xinhua/Landov)