NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis yesterday challenged Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis to “ring the bell” and call an election.
Davis’ comments came after the prime minister lambasted the Progressive Liberal Party’s record, as he opened debate on a resolution extending the state of emergency and accompanying emergency orders until September 30.
Minnis told Parliament that he had invited the opposition to attend an emergency Cabinet meeting last night with health officials.
However, Davis said this was not true, and expressed disappointment in the prime minister’s comments and behavior.
Pointing to comments Minnis made about how Bahamians view him, Davis said, “How could you in one breath appear to be handing the olive branch and the next breath when I reaching out you cutting the hand off.
“But if he believes, what he believes the people think about me, we could go and test it.
“He has the power. He can ring the bell and let them say what they say.”
Davis did not attend the Cabinet meeting, citing a previous engagement.
As he continued his criticism of the government’s COVID-19 mitigation efforts, Davis questioned the country’s testing capacity, contract tracing and further accused the government of giving preferential treatment to special interest groups.
The opposition members, who did not support the resolution, all took issue with the government’s handling of the matter and the prime minister’s comments.
Exumas and Ragged Island MP Chester Cooper insisted that the government and the prime minister must present its plans to how it will move the country forward.
“We listened to the presentation by the competent authority that was laced with jeers and nonsense and pettiness,” Cooper said.
“We must stop the jeers and start the plans, that’s what our country needs. And I invite you to get on with the business of planning and running this country effectively.”
Cooper noted that the emergency order “does not make the prime minister king”.
“It mandates him to justify the decisions that are made and it mandates him to make reasonable and justifiable decisions.
He questioned whether the government has a plan for increased testing, Grand Bahama, the unemployment rate, rental assistance, healthcare capacity, Family Island capacity and a plan for the new normal.
Englerston MP Glenys Hanna-Martin took the prime minister to task over his tone in addressing Bahamians.
“We all understand we are dealing with something and we do not need the leadership in this issue to speak to our people in a condescending tone,” Hanna-Martin said
“I don’t appreciate a condescending tone when our nation is in a crisis.
“I want the prime minister to speak to his people like they are intelligent people, who know we are facing something serious.”
She noted that Bahamians are well aware that the country is in a serious predicament, which is evident by the daily curfews and rolling lockdowns on multiple islands.
“I want to urge the prime minister, as the competent authority, that in his conversation with the Bahamian people to speak to us as intelligent participants.
Hanna-Martin contended that the government continues to shift its rationale over is
“When we were doing well…it was them, they did it, they did the good things” she said.
“Now we have some failed situations and it’s the Bahamian people.
“…You are the one that thought it made sense to allow people to travel to the United States for days and come back without any type of protocols.”
She insisted that while the government may have implemented mitigation measures, there was a lack of enforcement.
During his contribution to the debate, Mangrove Cay and South Andros MP Picewell Forbes further urged the government to ensure that there is a system in place for Family Island residents to get an aircraft to Nassau in a timely and safe manner.
The Bahamas has experienced a surge of new infections since the reopening of the country’s borders to international commercial carriers on July 1.
Parliament yesterday passed the resolution extending the state of emergency and emergency orders until September 30.
The opposition proposed an amendment to the resolution to remain in effect until the end of August as opposed to the end of September.
However, the government voted down the proposed amendment.
Senate is expected to begin debate on the resolution today.