The same drug gang that is now battling security forces in Jamaica in a bloody urban stand-off was openly used by the island's ruling party to bring supporters to the polls and intimidate opposition voters in elections three years ago, Caribbean political experts suggested yesterday.
The "Shower Posse" gang, led by the outlaw and alleged drug kingpin Christopher "Dudus" Coke, was yesterday locked in brutal combat with more than a thousand members of Jamaica's security forces in West Kingston, in a bid to stave off their leader's extradition to the US on drug and gun charges. The clashes have so far killed more than 30, according to a Kingston hospital.
But those hostilities were in sharp contrast to previous relations between Coke and the ruling Jamaica Labour Party, led by Prime Minister Bruce Golding. David Rowe, a University of Miami adjunct professor and lawyer who specialises in Jamaican law, says they used to have an "almost symbiotic relationship".