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Bruce Golding, the Prime Minister of Jamaica, has complained of an international conspiracy against his Government after news reports suggesting that US authorities consider him a “known criminal affiliate” of the fugitive drugs baron Christopher “Dudus” Coke.

More than 60 people have been killed since soldiers stormed Mr Coke’s bastion in the barricaded Kingston slum of Tivoli Gardens in an unsuccessful bid to arrest him for extradition to the United States, where he faces drug-trafficking and gun-running charges.
Tivoli Gardens, Jamaica’s first public housing project, is in a part of West Kingston represented in Parliament by Mr Golding, who has long resisted the extradition request for Mr Coke.
Mr Golding has faced mounting questions as to his own role since he was forced to admit two weeks ago that he had hired a US law firm to help lobby against the US extradition request.
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The violence that has convulsed the Jamaican capital began on May 17, when Mr Golding abruptly reversed his position and ordered Mr Coke’s arrest.
In a statement today, Mr Golding’s office dismissed an ABC News report that US officials considered him a “criminal affiliate” of the alleged drugs baron. It also attacked an article in The Independent suggesting that Mr Coke’s “Shower Posse” gang was effectively on the payroll of Mr Golding’s Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).
ABC quoted “official US accounts” as saying that the JLP was voted into power through “Coke’s murderous and strong-arm tactics”. It also said that Mr Golding and other senior Government officials had been electronically intercepted talking to Mr Coke.
“Prime Minister Bruce Golding has categorically denied and dismissed as extremely offensive, reports on the US-ABC network which describe him as ‘a known criminal affiliate of hunted drug lord’, Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke,” the statement said.
“Mr Golding says he is also outraged by an article in The Independent, a UK newspaper, that the ‘drug gang was on (the) payroll of Jamaican Prime Minister’.
“He said both publications, by seeking to link him personally with the alleged drug kingpin, were clearly part of a conspiracy to undermine the duly elected government of Jamaica.”
Meanwhile, Jamaican forces stepped up a massive assault to snatch Mr Coke from his slum stronghold, as trucks ferried dozens of dead bodies away from gun battles raging in the capital.
Troops and police circled the streets of Kingston late into the evening after a third day of clashes with gang members loyal to Mr Coke and gunfire rattled out through the night.
Hospital sources said three trucks unloaded a grim cargo of more than 60 corpses at a morgue and a correspondent with the AFP news agency saw a baby’s body among them.
Police said that 26 civilians had been killed, although Mr Golding warned that that figure would rise.
“The violence that has been unleashed on the society by armed, criminal elements must be repelled,” Mr Golding told a heated session of parliament, where opposition members accused him of creating the crisis by earlier inaction.
“The operations being carried out under emergency powers are an extraordinary response to an extraordinary challenge to the safety and security of our citizens,” Mr Golding said.
Mr Coke’s supporters used tree branches, old cars and refrigerators as barricades to seal off Mr Coke’s hideout in Tivoli Gardens, where the 41-year-old has developed a loyal following among slum-dwellers for offering jobs, education and security.

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