HAMILTON, Bermuda: Bermuda has a new Premier. She is Paula Cox.
Cox was sworn in last Friday following the Progressive Labour Party’s (PLP) internal race to choose a replacement for outgoing Premier Dr. Ewart Brown.
Cox is Bermuda’s third premier. She was declared the new PLP leader after receiving 124 votes to Terry Lister’s 39 and Dale Butler’s two votes.
Derrick Burgess, the country’s Works and Engineering minister, won the race to become Cox’s deputy.
Brown, 64, who has been a parliamentarian for 17 years and Premier for the last four, is retiring from politics.
In his final speech to the PLP last week at the party’s annual conference, Brown claimed there were those within the party who are in cahoots with what he labeled “the combined opposition”.
“There are those who believe that their personal interests and persuasions should come before the party and the country. There are those that run to the propaganda arm of the combined opposition and, under cover of night and anonymity, attempt to divert, divide and destroy (what) all that you, I, and so many before us have worked so hard and sacrificed so much to build,” said Brown.
Although not identifying any one in particular, Brown said people who were fighting to destroy the party should declare their hands.
“Don’t be afraid to state your name and your position. I and others may disagree with you often, but the PLP has room for dissidents and we will respect you. But don’t come to Central Committee meetings and caucus, hear all of our strategic positions and then run to your friends in the Combined Opposition to tell them everything you heard in confidence.
“Why don’t you just man-up, join them and fight us from the outside? Be our open enemy if you find us so objectionable. Do as you would do in a domestic marriage – just leave! Find someone else to spend your life with, with whom you might be more compatible,” said Brown.
There have been several public disagreements between Brown and members of his government due to his inability to garner support at times to pass legislation.
However, Brown said that those who believe that efforts to divide the PLP, delay its agenda and destroy its reputation would end with his departure are mistaken.
“To those who have been beguiled by sweet words and hollow promises of unity once I am off the stage, I say don’t be fooled. Hear me and hear me well. The agenda that will continue to oppose the PLP and all it stands for is one that would return power to those who had it before. That agenda has not changed, their tactics have not changed, and most of the players have not changed. You owe it to our people and you owe it to yourselves to never forget that,” Brown warned party members.
Brown urged party members to support the new PLP leader.