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Prime Minister Bruce Golding tonight (May 17) apologised to the nation for failing to acknowledge his ruling Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP) efforts to lobby U.S. support in the controversial Christopher Coke extradition issue, and announced that the Minister of Justice will sign the authorization for the extradition process to begin.
“When I was asked in Parliament whether the government had engaged the services of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, I answered truthfully and definitively, that it had not done so. It is felt that I should, there and then, have acknowledged the party initiative led by Mr. Brady. On reflection, I should have and tonight I express my profound regret and offer to the Parliament and the people of Jamaica my deepest apologies,” Mr. Golding said.
“I am aware that trust can only be restored by forgiveness and atonement. That will take time, and I am committing myself to do everything that is humanly possible to repair the damage that has been done to that trust. In return, I ask for your forgiveness,” he added.
Mr. Golding said that the matter of the extradition has consumed too much of the country’s “energies and attention”, and has led to “a virtual paralysis” that must be broken.
“Accordingly, the Minister of Justice, in consideration of all the factors, will sign the authorization for the extradition process to commence,” he stated.
In addition, Mr. Golding said he will be transferring some of his portfolio responsibilities to other ministers, to allow him to focus on change and transformation.
“I will be tabling in Parliament the proposals emanating from the Public Sector Transformation Unit for the restructuring of government, to invite public comment before a final decision is taken. I intend to transfer some of my portfolio responsibilities to other Ministers, to enable me to focus more on the issues that drive change and transformation,” he explained.
He said that he intended to concentrate on advancing the unfinished business of his Government’s mandate. These include political and constitutional reform measures to transform the way politics is conducted and the way government operates, stamp out corruption and hold public officials to account, all of which were included in the JLP’s 2007 election manifesto.In going forward, he would put on fast track:. Measures to reverse the institutionalization of political tribalism and garrison;. Provisions for the impeachment of public officials;. Term limits for the Office of the Prime Minister;. Vesting constitutional authority in the Contractor-General and the Electoral Commission;. Laws to regulate political party financing;. Enacting into law certain provisions of the Political Code of Conduct with appropriate oversight and penalties for violations;. Criminal sanctions for breaches of award of contracts;. Parliamentary oversight in the appointment of certain statutory positions.
Mr. Golding said he also intended to seek parliamentary approval for the six anti-crime Bills, the DNA Evidence Act and new criminal gang legislation, to strengthen the country’s capacity to fight crime, including measures to prevent the award of contracts to individuals linked to criminal activities.