Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding caused a “fiasco” by delaying the extradition of an alleged drug lord to the U.S. and should resign after street violence subsides, an opposition lawmaker said.
Golding will testify to Parliament today about the government’s efforts to capture and extradite Christopher “Dudus” Coke, which have provoked violent street clashes between security forces and his supporters.
Golding allowed gangs time to arm themselves as he delayed carrying out Coke’s extradition request for nine months, said Peter Bunting, general secretary of the People’s National Party and the opposition’s spokesman on national security issues.
“Even though the government inevitably buckled to pressure, the prime minister and his cabinet must be held accountable for this fiasco,” Bunting said in a phone interview from Kingston. He added that opposition parties will push for a vote of no confidence that could force new elections after the situation is brought under control.
“We don’t want to contribute to the instability as there are pitched gun battles in the street,” said Bunting, a founder and former Chief Executive Officer of Dehring, Bunting & Golding Ltd., an investment bank bought by Bank of Nova Scotia in 2006.
Six officers were shot and one died yesterday after trying to serve an arrest warrant to Coke in his stronghold in the Tivoli Gardens neighborhood of western Kingston, the government said in a statement.
Jamaica’s borrowing costs rose to a three-month high today. Dollar bonds yielded 5.40 percentage points more than U.S. Treasuries at 11:32 a.m. in New York, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. The spread last reached 5.41 percentage points on Feb. 16.
Golding declared a one-month state of emergency May 23. The crisis has caused businesses and schools to shut on fears of further violence, Bunting said. Tourism is also expected to be affected as travelers cancel their trips for fear of being caught in the crossfire, he said.
The U.S. State Department on May 21 warned travelers that civil unrest in Kingston could block access to the international airport. Air Jamaica Ltd., the country’s largest carrier, yesterday canceled three night-time flights connecting Kingston and the U.S. to assure the safety of its passengers and crew.
Coke is accused by the U.S. government of leading an international criminal group known as the “Shower Posse,” with members in Jamaica and the U.S.
The International Monetary Fund in February approved a 27- month, $1.27 billion stand-by credit agreement to help the Caribbean country of 2.8 million people recover from the global financial crisis, which depressed prices for bauxite and aluminum exports as well as reduced inflows from tourism and remittances sent by Jamaicans living abroad.
An IMF mission to Jamaica on May 18 recommended the board disburse $93.5 million after the government met its fiscal targets by controlling spending and improving tax collection. Jamaica’s debt is equal to about 130 percent of gross domestic product, according to the IMF.
The IMF expects Jamaica’s economy to shrink 0.3 percent this year, after contracting 2.8 percent last year, according to a May report.
–With assistance from Veronica Navarro Espinosa in New York. Editors: Joshua Goodman, Brendan Walsh