November 9, 2001

Cayman leader ousted

                 GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands -- Legislators have voted to oust the
                 British Caribbean territory's chief minister, saying he has not done enough
                 to counter a slowing economy.

                 Nine of the 15 elected legislators voted to remove Kurt Tibbetts as Leader of
                 Government Business. Five voted against the motion, and one abstained.

                 He was expected to be replaced in the position by Tourism Minister McKeeva Bush.

                 The vote came after 10 of the 15 elected legislators formed a new party on

                 The legislators, who had been independents, said in a statement that they were
                 forming the new United Democratic Party to "get the economy up and moving, as
                 many of our people are out of work and hurting."

                 Government officials could not provide the latest statistics on the economy or
                 unemployment among the territory's 40,000 people.

                 As part of the changes to the Assembly's Executive Council, legislators also
                 removed Tibbetts supporter Edna Moyle as minister of community development
                 and women's affairs.

                 The two vacancies on the Executive Council are to be filled by Legislative
                 Assembly members Gilbert McLean and Frank McField. Both Tibbetts and Moyle
                 are to keep their seats.

                 The legislature chose Tibbetts as the chief minister after elections a year ago in
                 which voters ousted former leader Truman Bodden in apparent anger over the
                 weakening of secretive banking laws that made the islands a prosperous offshore
                 banking center.

                 Moyle said she would seek advice on challenging the Assembly's decision in the

                 Tibbetts said during debate on the motion that he had no choice but to accept the
                 result of the vote, but said the islands should restructure the system so that the
                 leadership cannot be so easily removed.

                 British Governor Peter Smith said he had no reason to intervene. "This is the
                 democratic process at work within the rules that presently govern us in the Cayman
                 Islands," he said in a statement.

                  Copyright 2001 The Associated Press.