Bruce Golding, head of the Jamaica Labor Party (JLP), announced on Sunday his plans to resign from the position of prime minister. This will take place once the JLP elects a new leader, which is expected to happen at the party’s annual conference in early November. The leader of the party automatically becomes prime minster.
In a statement, Golding and the JLP said that “the challenges of the last four years have taken their toll and it [is] appropriate now to make way for new leadership.” Since the election of the JLP in 2007, Golding’s administration has been plagued by economic troubles, unemployment and corruption scandals—most notably, Golding’s handling of the Christopher “Dudus” Coke case. For nine months, Golding resisted the extradition of Coke to the United States. In May 2010 he consented to the extradition and admitted to previously hiring a law firm to lobby Washington on behalf of Coke. Last month Coke pleaded guilty in a New York court to racketeering and assault charges; he is due to be sentenced in December and faces up to 23 years in prison.
Following the Coke controversy, Golding offered his resignation last year, only to be rejected by his party. This time, senior members of the JLP again called for Golding to reconsider, but Information Minister Daryl Vaz confirmed the decision was final.
Analysts and critics said that Golding had lost most of his political capital and ability to govern. David Rowe, a south Florida Jamaican-born law professor, said, “He’s weak…He has not had a very coherent foreign policy and his government has been dominated by scandal.” Peter Bunting, general secretary and spokesman for the opposition People’s National Party said Golding “has lost the moral authority to govern” and called on him to convene general elections.
Golding was elected in 2007 by a thin margin, returning the JLP to power after 18 years. Last year he promised to crush street gangs and implement social programs for the poor, and though security forces have since cracked down on violent crimes, the poor remain largely marginalized.