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Voters opt for new government in Cayman Islands
Associated Press
2009-05-22 07:47 AM
Voters ousted the Cayman Islands sitting government, choosing an opposition party to lead the British territory through volatile economic times, according to official parliamentary election results released Thursday.

McKeeva Bush's United Democratic Party won nine spots in the 15-seat Legislative Assembly to defeat Kurt Tibbetts' People's Progressive Movement, said Susan Watler, spokesperson for the Caribbean islands' government information service.

Candidates with the victorious UDP pledged to diversify the islands' economy, now known as an offshore tax haven, and to create a job-placement program for unemployed workers with help from the private sector. They also vowed to strengthen tourism and the financial services sector.

The PPM, which had promised not to raise taxes and to create a national minimum wage, won just five seats, losing its majority. One independent legislator is a supporter of the UDP.

The new legislature is expected to be sworn in later this month.

Islanders also decided in Wednesday's vote whether to adopt a new constitution that would create the islands' first executive post, limiting the premiership to two consecutive terms. The constitution would also increase parliament seats from 15 to 18 and grant the islands more autonomy from Britain.

Election officials were still tallying ballots in the constitutional referendum Thursday night and it was not immediately clear when official results would be known.

The new government takes office just months after the Cayman Islands was placed on a global "gray list" of tax havens, indicating that it has not fully complied with international rules on sharing tax information.

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