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Cablegate: Jamaica: Trafigura Scandal May Affect Timing Of

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DE RUEHKG #2020 2851229
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 121229Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY KINGSTON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3749
INFO RUCNCOM/EC CARICOM COLLECTIVE
RUEHZA/ARA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 0023
RUEHSW/AMEMBASSY BERN 0106
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0449
RUEHTC/AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE 0724

C O N F I D E N T I A L KINGSTON 002020

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CAR (RANDALL BUDDEN)

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/09/2016
TAGS: PGOV PREL ECON EPET KCOR JML XL XK
SUBJECT: JAMAICA: TRAFIGURA SCANDAL MAY AFFECT TIMING OF
GENERAL ELECTIONS

Classified By: Ambassador Brenda LaGrange Johnson for reasons 1.4 (b) a
nd (d).

1. (C) The Trafigura scandal delineated septel has forced the
resignation of Colin Campbell, Minister of Information and
Development and PNP General Secretary, and may cause the
Prime Minister to wait to call elections until late next
year. Prior to this latest imbroglio, many observers had
speculated that Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller (PSM) of
the ruling People's National Party (PNP) would call elections
as early as this fall. However, given the political fall-out
from the scandal and the resignation of Campbell, one of her
closest and most powerful advisors, PSM may decide to hold
off on calling elections in hopes the scandal will blow over.


2. (C) At his request, on October 10 Emboffs met with James
Robertson, an influential figure within the Opposition
Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) and Member of Parliament for St.
Thomas Western, to discuss the scandal. According to
Robertson, such scandals tend to be forgotten quickly in
Jamaica, and the public is very forgiving when it comes to
corruption. He said he is worried that, because of the
imbroglio, PSM will wait until next year to call elections;
unlike the PNP, the JLP does not have sufficient funding to
maintain its current campaign efforts until late 2007.
Robertson speculated that if the Trafigura scandal explodes,
incriminating much of the PNP's leadership, PSM may be forced
to resign and call snap elections to replace the entire
government.

3. (C) Robertson also mentioned the JLP motion of no
confidence in the government that was tabled in Parliament
that same day. According to Robertson, the motion is
unlikely to pass when it goes to vote on October 17; however,
Robertson stated it was important to get PNP Members of
Parliament on the record supporting a government that is
"unethical" and "criminal."

4. (C) Robertson also stated that the JLP would pursue the
affair vigorously and would follow the trail wherever it
led-- and this could include PSM. Robertson noted that four
senior GOJ officials recently had met with executives from
Trafigura in New York, and was curious as to whether PSM had
been among them. (Note: on Oct. 11, PSM publicly admitted
that she had been present at this meeting, but claimed to
have known nothing of any transfer of funds. End Note.)
However, Robertson observed, the JLP is hesitant to pursue
PSM too vigorously, since she is loved by the Jamaican
people, even if not within her own divided party. Robertson
went so far as to describe PSM as more popular with the
people than any previous Jamaican prime ministers, including
Michael Manley and P.J. Patterson.

5. (C) Robertson made it quite clear that the "playing field
is not level", contending that viable democracy is under
threat in Jamaica as a result of outside influence. He
pointed out that Petro Caribe funds are under no
Parliamentary oversight or scrutiny, and that they will be
used to maintain the political status quo (comment: echoing
concerns expressed by JLP MP Audley Shaw to EconOff).

6. (C) Comment. At least for the moment, Robertson's
speculation that the Trafigura scandal could explode, leading
to a collapse of Government and snap elections, still looks
unlikely. It seems more probable that PSM will wait to call
elections in hopes the scandal will be forgotten-- like so
many previous imbroglios in Jamaica. Robertson was clearly
angling for USG support, although he acknowledged that the
Embassy could not afford to be seen as anything other than
neutral. End Comment.
JOHNSON

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