Bermuda Premier won't Resign over Gitmo Fight

HAMILTON, Bermuda (AP) - Bermuda Premier Ewart Brown said
Thursday he expects to weather a looming no-confidence vote over
his decision to accept four Guantanamo prisoners as refugees in the
British territory.

Brown said his opponents viewed him as "somewhat vulnerable,"
but he still has the support of his Progressive Labor Party, which
holds an eight-seat margin in the British territory's Parliament.

"Am I going to resign? Absolutely not," he told reporters.

The no-confidence vote was expected Friday following criticism
over his decision to accept the prisoners, ethnic Uighurs
originally from western China, without consulting political leaders
in Bermuda or the British government.

U.S. authorities had determined the Uighurs were not terrorists
and American courts had ordered their release, but they could not
be sent back to China, where they might be executed or face
persecution for their separatist beliefs, and other countries
refused to accept them.

An estimated 800 to 1,000 protesters demonstrated in the capital
Thursday, calling on Brown to resign.

"I'm engaged in a fight and we'll see what happens tomorrow,"
the premier said at a news conference.

Britain, which handles defense, security and foreign affairs
policy for the Atlantic island territory, has criticized the
government for accepting the Uighurs without consulting London.
Officials suggested Brown took the men in to prevent the U.S. from
imposing any new restrictions on Bermuda's financial sector as part
of a broader crackdown on offshore finance.

The premier said he believes Bermuda's decision to accept the
men has improved its relationship with the U.S. but the governments
did not make any kind of deal.

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