NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister yesterday expressed disappointment with the opposition’s continued boycott of parliamentary proceedings and insisted that opposing members of parliament have a duty to House and to the Bahamian people to contribute on legislation impacting the nation.
“Mr. Speaker, they have a high constitutional duty to be here to debate issues that come before this Parliament,” he said.
“They have irresponsibly and voluntarily absented themselves and there is no excuse for that dereliction of duty.
“Mr. Speaker, members of the opposite side are short on memory.
“In comments when they were in governance, and the now prime minister was suspended from this place, members of this side took certain actions as a result of what they thought was an unfair suspension; [it] led them to make certain comments they ought now to look back at very seriously. Their duty Mr. Speaker is to be here and I am disappointed and the Bahamian people as result Mr. Speaker will disappoint them when the time comes.”
Picewell Forbes, the leader of opposition business in the House and the MP for Mangrove Cay and South Andros, told Eyewitness News Online the Progressive Liberal Party’s (PLP) parliamentary caucus will meet later on this week to determine when its members will return to the House
Asked whether the party was concerned about the opposition’s voice being absent from debate on critical proposed legislation, Forbes suggested the party has made it perspective known on bills before the House and will continue to do so, whether its members are physically in the Upper or Lower Chambers.
Forbes said the leadership is concerned with the “spectre that is being developed on the political landscape”.
In a statement yesterday, PLP Chairman Fred Mitchell made a similar point.
“The FNM continues to allow the administration of justice to be made a mockery. The party will return when the point has been sufficiently made and it is judged to be in the better interests of the Bahamian people,” he said.
He said until such time, the party will continue to meet the people in the streets and in “the people’s parliaments around the nation”.
The decision to withdraw from parliamentary proceedings was announced last Wednesday to “mark the seriousness” of the Progressive Liberal Party’s (PLP) concerns with what it said was the Minnis administration’s continued abuse of power.
“We will not rest until tyrannical attitudes and practices are forever vanquished from this society,” Davis told the media at a press conference shortly after the opposition walked out of the House following a brief, but heated exchange between governing and opposition members.
The verbal sparring match ensued after Davis decried the actions of the government relating to the arrests of former Urban Renewal Deputy Director Michelle Reckley and several other people.
PLP senators followed suit in the Upper Chamber last Thursday.
Attorney General Carl Bethel has labelled the PLP’s move as an “unacceptable” intimidation tactic.