* Members of premier's own party join call for a vote
* Premier arrested last week on suspicion of corruption
* Parliament to begin debate at 3 p.m. EST/2000 GMT
By Shurna Robbins
GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands, Dec 18 Five
lawmakers from the Cayman Islands' ruling party joined the
opposition in calling for a no-confidence vote that appeared
likely to oust embattled Premier McKeeva Bush on Tuesday.
The Legislative Assembly was scheduled to meet in a special
session to debate the matter at 3 p.m. EST (2000 GMT). The
British territory is a major financial center and home to more
than half the world's hedge funds.
Including those from the ruling United Democratic Party, 11
lawmakers from the 15-member Legislative Assembly signed a
letter calling for the vote. It would take 10 votes to force
Bush from office.
Bush, who was arrested last week on suspicion of corruption,
has denied wrongdoing and has refused to step down as premier of
the Caribbean island chain. His support within his own party has
dwindled as the territory prepares for general elections in May.
All four legislators representing the opposition Peoples
Progressive Movement signed the letter calling for a vote, as
did both independent lawmakers.
Bush, 57, was arrested on Dec. 11 by members of the
Financial Crime Unit of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.
He was released on bail until February, pending the possible
filing of criminal charges against him.
Authorities have declined to give specific details of the
investigation but said it included allegations of theft and
misuse of a government credit card.
Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin said last week that
allowing Bush to continue as premier after his arrest would
undermine confidence in the Cayman Islands.
Ellio Solomon, a ruling-party lawmaker who opposed the call
for a no-confidence vote, said it would set a dangerous
precedent to remove someone from the highest political office
before any charges are filed.
"There are a lot of persons who have concerns about the
RCIPS (Royal Cayman Islands Police Service) and the
credibility," Solomon said.
Bush has served as premier since 2009 in the Cayman Islands,
a three-island territory with about 55,000 residents.