Cayman Islands MPs have voted to oust the British territory's premier in a no-confidence motion a week after he was arrested on suspicion of misconduct.
Governing party, opposition and independent legislators joined in voting 11-3 in favour of the motion which effectively ended McKeeva Bush's role as head of government for the Cayman Islands, a three-island Caribbean territory that is the world's sixth largest financial centre and a major haven for mutual funds and private equity.
The 11 MPs who backed Mr Bush's departure had called on the parliament speaker earlier in the day to summon the emergency session for a debate on the premier, who rejected calls to resign after being questioned by police for two days last week.
The premier abstained from the vote.
It was uncertain whether the splintered governing party could form a new government or whether parliament would have to be dissolved to pave the way for early elections. A vote has been scheduled for May.
But deputy premier Juliana O'Connor-Connolly said she believed the British-appointed governor was not in favour of early general elections. She said the islands' constitution "puts the process in the hands of the governor". "Our information is that there is certainly going to be every effort to ensure that the country is not put into an election at this stage because we believe firmly that this is not in the best interest of the country" right now, Ms O'Connor-Connolly said.
When asked if she expected to become the next premier, she said a wait-and-see approach was required. "I've learned one thing in politics which is until the ink is dry expectations are not legitimate," she said.
Governor Duncan Taylor, whom Mr Bush has described as his "enemy" and implied was behind his arrest, is expected to consult the ousted premier today about the next step for the islands' government.
Before the special legislative session, education minister Rolston Anglin said a majority of Mr Bush's parliamentary bloc of eight had asked him to step down and allow the police investigations to continue without any appearance of conflict. He said the premier had rebuffed his colleagues during meetings in recent days. "This whole matter has created tremendous uncertainty in our country. There has also been a loud outcry from our populace to put this matter behind us. We cannot allow that to continue any longer," said Mr Anglin, an accountant who helped Mr Bush found the United Democratic Party in 2001.
Police have said the probes into Mr Bush involve suspected theft related to misuse of a government credit card and breach of trust, abuse of office and conflict of interest for the alleged importation of explosive substances without valid permits. He has not been charged with anything. Mr Bush has described the investigations as part of a "very vindictive" political plot to destroy his reputation and career.