Jamaica’s outgoing leader said Sunday that public perceptions about his handling of a U.S. extradition request for a notorious drug gang leader contributed to his recent decision to step down.
Prime Minister Bruce Golding said in a nationally televised address that questions about the role he played in the extradition of Christopher “Dudus” Coke had affected him deeply.
Sunday’s address was the first time since Golding’s unexpected announcement last week about stepping down that he has given a specific reason for the move.
The prime minister said his opposition to the U.S. extradition request for Coke was because the U.S. indictment relied on illegal wiretap evidence. Golding is reported to have engaged the services of a U.S.-based law firm to lobby Washington to drop the request.
Golding said the Coke extradition saga was a breach of Jamaica’s Constitution. He said if the case had involved anyone other than Coke, the matter would probably not have evolved into the cause celebre that it became.
When the Jamaican government finally bowed to U.S. pressure to move against Coke in May 2010, more than 70 people were killed in gun battles pitting the police and military against Coke loyalists holed up in the Tivoli Gardens district of the capital.
Golding is to step down after the ruling Jamaica Labor party picks a new leader at its annual conference in November.