November 3, 2000

Bermuda premier survives leadership challenge

                  HAMILTON, Bermuda (Reuters) -- Bermuda Premier Jennifer Smith saw off a
                  challenge to her leadership of the ruling Progressive Labour Party on Thursday,
                  securing her grasp on office.

                  Smith, whose approval ratings in the British-dependent territory have fallen from
                  87 percent last year to 41 percent now, comfortably defeated Environment
                  Minister Arthur Hodgson in a vote at the PLP's annual conference in the island's
                  capital, Hamilton.

                  Smith, who guided the PLP to its first ever election victory in 1998, after 30
                  years in opposition, defeated Hodgson by 81 votes to 35.

                  She would have been forced to resign as premier of the 22 square mile
                  mid-Atlantic island if she had lost the leadership of the PLP.

                  "I am very pleased the delegates have once again placed their faith in me and I
                  intend to continue doing the job I was elected to do to carry out the
                  comprehensive policies of the PLP," she said after the vote.

                  She refused to be drawn on whether Hodgson would be sacked or resign from
                  the cabinet.

                  Opponents of Smith, inside and outside the PLP, accuse her of being arrogant,
                  secretive and increasingly out of touch with the party's predominantly black

                  The opposition United Bermuda Party has frequently complained that Smith has
                  kept the country in the dark over legislation -- most recently over controversial
                  plans to change the island's constitution by reducing the 40 members of
                  parliament by an undisclosed number, and replacing two-member constituencies
                  with single seats.

                  Hodgson said after the vote: "I congratulate the premier on what was a
                  convincing victory. I am entirely at the disposal of the premier and the party."

                      Copyright 2000 Reuters.