KINGSTON, Jamaica (CMC) – A warrant for the arrest of Christopher “Dudus” Coke has been signed less than 24 hours after Prime Minister Bruce Golding bowed to public pressure and agreed to his extradition to the United States on drugs and gun running charges.
The warrant gives the Police Fugitive Apprehension Team the powers to arrest Coke, a strong supporter of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).
On Monday night, an apologetic and remorseful Prime Minister Golding in a nationwide radio and television broadcast said that Justice Minister Dorothy Lightbourne would sign the necessary documents for the extradition of Coke.
The Golding administration had in the past defended its decision not to extradite Coke, stating that it would not act hastily and violate the extradition treaty between the two countries.
But in his broadcast, the prime minister who asked for forgiveness over the entire matter, said he would not be stepping down as a result of the issue. He said his party had rejected his offer to resign.
“I regret the entire affair and it has been deeply painful for me, members of my family and you who have been hurt and disappointed. In hindsight, the party should never have been involved in the way that it did, and I should never have allowed it but I must express responsibility for it and express my remorse to the nation,” Golding said.
There had been mounting calls for the prime minister’s resignation following his admission in Parliament last week that he knew of attempts by the US-based law firm, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, to lobby the United States government to drop its request to extradite Coke on the alleged criminal charges. If convicted, Coke faces a term of life imprisonment.
In his statement to Parliament last week, Golding acknowledged that he had “sanctioned” persons in the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) to approach the law firm “knowing that such interventions have in the past proven to be of considerable value in dealing with issues involving the governments of both countries.
“I made it absolutely, unmistakably clear, however, that this was an initiative to be undertaken by the party, not by or on behalf of the government,” Golding said.
Coke’s stronghold of Tivoli Gardens in Golding’s constituency of West Kingston has been barricaded by his supporters who say they fear an invasion from the security forces.
Plans by the main opposition People’s National Party (PNP) to move a motion of no confidence against the prime minister in Parliament on Tuesday failed to materalise after the opposition legislators walked out to protest plans by Golding to make a statement to Parliament on the issue.
Meanwhile, police are investigating isolated incidents of violence in the aftermath of the address by Golding.
Police said that the car belonging to Lawman Lynch, a well-known youth activist who appeared on a television panel discussion had been firebombed.
The police believe that the attack came as a result of statements Lynch made in the media relating to the calls for the resignation of the prime minister.
“I have always been vocal about a number of issues; I maintain my position on whatever issue I have been speaking about; this goes way beyond politics. I think as a nation we have come to accept nasty behaviour,” Lynch said.
The executive director of the Human Rights lobby group, Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ), Dr Carolyn Gomes said that threats have been issued against two members of the organisation.
The JFJ is among organisations here calling on Golding to resign.