Opposition calls for PM resignation and probe

KINGSTON, Jamaica: The Opposition People’s National Party has renewed a call for a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the extradition process of Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke and the resignation of Prime Minister Bruce Golding.

The PNP made the call based on new information about the government’s involvement with U.S. law firm Manatt, Phelps and Phillips in the extradition matter. The party says the Golding administration has been withholding information from the public.

The call came on the heels of a Jamaica Gleaner newspaper article which revealed email correspondence that showed Manatt, Phelps and Phillips was working for the government and not the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) as Prime Minister Golding had claimed. The article referred to the emails sent between September 2009 and March this year.

Chairman of the Opposition’s communication commission, Dr. Peter Phillips, said the media reports reaffirm the PNP’s view that the government “has still not come clean to the people of Jamaica about all the circumstances surrounding their handling of the extradition request for Mr. Coke and the Manatt, Phelps and Phillips affair which was associated with that whole effort by the government to defy a legitimate extradition request”.

“We have insisted on a full independent commission of inquiry into the whole matter which can give the people of Jamaica an opportunity to assess all the issues that arise and to determine that we never go into the direction again where a Government of Jamaica becomes subject to the dictates of organized criminal entities. The party is going to speak to it in a few days,” said Dr. Phillips.

Opposition leader Portia Simpson-Miller has also renewed a call for Golding to step down, saying that he had betrayed the people of Jamaica.

“It is more evident that the moral authority of the prime minister and his government is compromised,” she said at a constituency conference for South West Clarendon last Sunday. “Wrong is wrong! I say to the prime minister, enough is enough!”

In a statement to Parliament in May Golding had denied that his government had hired Manatt, Phelps and Phillips to lobby on behalf of Coke, a crime boss in the JLP stronghold of West Kingston, who was wanted on gun and drug charges in the U.S.

He insisted that the company was hired and paid by the JLP and not the government.

“I sanctioned the initiative, knowing that such interventions have in the past proven to be of considerable value in dealing with issues involving the governments of both countries. I made it clear, however, that this was an initiative to be undertaken by the Party, not by or on behalf of the government,” Golding said at the time.

Coke was subsequently extradited and is in jail in the U.S. awaiting trial.

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