ATONEMENT: Newly elected FNM Chairman says party is “big enough” to say sorry

ATONEMENT: Newly elected FNM Chairman says party is “big enough” to say sorry

Sands: “We recognize that we have some apologies to make. We have some atonement to do”

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Newly elected Free National Movement (FNM) Chairman Dr Duane Sands said yesterday that the party will seek to make “atonement” as it moves forward with a whole new leadership team. 

Sands was among the party’s newly elected team after a three-day convention last week. 

In an interview with Eyewitness News, he said he felt humility, anticipation, and gratitude after winning the chairmanship race, and insisted that the party is ready to “get to work”.

 “It’s not just about restoring public confidence in the Free National Movement, but it is restoring hope for the transformation of this country,” Sands said when asked of his plans as party chairman. 

“We are not interested in incremental change. We are talking peaceful revolution.

“… We are talking about big things for Bahamians and we recognize the intrinsic value of every single team member and every single Bahamian”

He continued: “We just want to get to work. We recognize that we have some apologies to make. We have some atonement to do. We didn’t always get it right, but we are big enough to say sorry and to ask for another opportunity to regain the trust of the Bahamian people.” 

Sands defeated former Yamacraw MP Elsworth Johnson and former Golden Gates chairman Michael Foulkes with 183 votes. 

Meanwhile, St Barnabas MP Shanendon Cartwright won the deputy leadership race with 332 votes against St Anne’s MP Adrian White with 101 votes. 

Some 101 people offered themselves for party positions at the convention. 

Following the FNM’s defeat at the September 16 general elections, there were swirling reports that the party had become significantly split with multiple internal fractions over how the party was being operated and its forward movement. 

But the new chairman said the party will seek to address these issues and will try to reconnect party supporters who may have left the party’s fold. 

“We recognize that we are stronger with those persons who had been previously disaffected, disappointed, distressed by the experience of the FNM,” he said.

Sands noted that the party has already welcomed back home a number of people, including former Central Grand Bahama MP Neko Grant; former St. Anne’s MP Hubert Chipman, and Montagu MP Richard Lightbourne.

The trio was among the group dubbed as the “Rebel Seven” who advised the governor-general in a letter that they had lost confidence in Hubert Minnis as their leader in December 2016. 

The former Elizabeth MP said: “We will deliberately and methodically go back and reclaim people who have decided to sit at home, who consider themselves FNMs but because of their pain, because of their experience, they decide to sit this one it.

“It will be an objective deliberate process.”

Sands said he will make sure that process takes place in every single community on every island of The Bahamas. 

The party honored 117 new meritorious council members, including Grant, Chipman, and Lightbourne. 

Asked what the new position means for his political future and aspirations, Sands says he “remains committed to taking this Bahamas to a better place”.

“I am energized, I am excited, I’m focused,” he said.

“I believe in the leadership of Micheal Pintard and the Free National Movement.

“I’ve never wavered from my commitment to this organization and now I’m in a position to make it better and that I intend to do.

About Sloan Smith

Sloan Smith is a senior digital reporter at Eyewitness News, covering a diverse range of beats, from politics and crime to environment and human interest. In 2018, Sloan received a nomination for the “Leslie Higgs Feature Writer of The Year Award” from The Bahamas Press Club for her work with Eyewitness News.