Opposition Leader loses vote of no confidence

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HAMILTON, Bermuda, Sep 21, CMC – Opposition Leader Jeanne Atherden has lost a vote of no confidence and is expected to be replaced by businessman Craig Cannonier, who resigned as premier four years after becoming embroiled in a controversy involving an American tycoon.
The likely change — in the wake of a crushing general election defeat 14 months ago — comes after eight of the OBA’s 11 Members of Parliament reportedly voted against Atherden, who had defeated Cannonier in a leadership fight last year, in the motion of no confidence on Wednesday night.
The OBA constitution states that a leadership election will take place if two-thirds of the party MPs pass a vote of no-confidence in the OBA leader endorsed by the OBA caucus.Atherden, Michael Dunkley, the former premier, and Trevor Moniz reportedly opposed the move to dump her after little more than 300 days in the post, although it is believed the three were not present at Wednesday’s meeting.
Government House confirmed that Governor John Rankin had been contacted and it is thought talks took place on Thursday to discuss the party’s future leadership.
Atherden and Cannonier were not immediately available for comment and party officials have so far remain tight-lipped.
Leah Scott is expected to remain the party’s deputy leader.
Cannonier, 55, had voiced concerns over Atherden’s leadership of the party. Last December, after the resignation of OBA chairman Nick Kempe, he said “we are not heading in the direction I would like to see the party heading.”
Chairman of the ruling Progressive Labour Party (PLP), Owen Darrell, said “the Progressive Labour Party thanks Jeanne Atherden for her service as Opposition Leader.
“As the members of the OBA continue to sort out their affairs, we in the PLP will stay focused on the work we were elected to complete — putting Bermudians first by restoring confidence in public education, creating jobs, diversifying our economy, and making Bermuda more fair for the people of Bermuda,” he said.
Cannonier entered politics in 2009 as a candidate for the short-lived Bermuda Democratic Alliance (BDA) and became party leader in 2010.
The BDA later merged with most of the remaining United Bermuda Party (UBP) MPs to form the OBA in 2011 after the UBP, which had run the country for 30 years after the introduction of party politics here in 1968, was disbanded and Cannonier was elected party leader.
Cannonier became premier after the OBA ended 14 years of PLP rule by winning the 2012 general election.
But Cannonier stepped down less than two years later over a row dubbed Jetgate by the then opposition PLP over a 2013 trip he took to the United States in a private jet owned by American tycoon Nathan Landow, a would-be investor in Bermuda, although he denied any wrongdoing.
Landow confirmed he and a group of other US businessmen had donated US$300,000 to assist the 2012 OBA election campaign, although Landow said cash was wired to a group called the Bermuda Political Action Club and not directly to the OBA.
Landow insisted that no deal was struck during the meeting in the US with Cannonier and his colleagues and said he received nothing from the OBA government in return for his financial contribution to the party.
He denied Cannonier asked him for two million US dollars in “facilitation money” to help him make casino gambling a reality in Bermuda.
Police say an inquiry into Jetgate remains open.
Atherden was voted in as leader by party members last November after Michael Dunkley, who replaced Cannonier as premier in 2014, stepped down, although he remains an MP
Cannonier was brought back into the cabinet by Dunkley in 2015 as Public Works Minister,

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