Culmer: FNM candidate selection process ongoing
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Minnis administration has done “more than enough” to ensure a second term in government, said Free National Movement (FNM) Chairman Carl Culmer yesterday.
“I don’t know no other government in the world that has faced the three major hurdles that this government has faced in the last three years,” Culmer said in an interview with Eyewitness News.
“I believe it is more than sufficient to ensure the government has taken the needs of the people and has promoted their people to where they need to be. It’s more than enough to be re-elected going forward.”
Culmer was responding to recent comments by Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Fred Mitchell, who indicated that the party was readying itself to win the next general election.
Mitchell advised that the party is expected to complete its slate of candidates for the election by February 1, in anticipation of the prime minister calling an early election.
However, Culmer insisted that while the FNM is preparing for the election, no date has been called by the prime minister.
“The only person that can say when the election will be called is the prime minister,” he said.
“We have until May 2022 to hold the election. He is the only person at this time, and according to the Westminster system, that can say when elections are held.”
He accused Mitchell’s comments of being “nothing but hot air”.
Culmer said the party is still going through its vetting process of candidates, seeking to fill the independent seat held by Centreville MP Reece Chipman and five seats now held by the PLP opposition — Cat Island and San Salvador MP Philip Brave Davis, Exumas and Ragged Island MP Chester Cooper, Englerston MP Glenys Hanna-Martin, Mangrove Cay and South Andros MP Picewell Forbes and Golden Isles MP Vaughn Miller.
“We have a number of candidates that are vying for those positions. We are now going through the vetting process so we can make recommendations to the executive council,” he said.
Asked whether all incumbents will be vying for a nomination, Culmer said: “It is difficult for us to say. We haven’t looked that far into the incumbents. We just want to get the vacancies secured so we can get persons working.
“We don’t want to wait until six months out. We want to make sure our candidates [are] at least a year on the ground working going forward.”
He noted that FNM MPs and the party have “never left the ground” since coming into office.
Asked whether the party will hold a convention before the next general election, Culmer said the executive council will have to meet to make a decision on whether one will be held and how it would take place, if called.
“The pandemic still prevents us from having large gatherings,” Culmer said.
“It would be hypocritical of the FNM to tell the church and to tell other groupings that they can’t communicate or they cannot gather in numbers over 20 and for the FNM to have a convention.”
In April 2019, Culmer had said the party was expected to hold a convention later in the year, but it would have likely been a non-voting event in which the party’s executive positions would not be open for challenge.
However, Hurricane Dorian hit at the beginning of September 2019, halting many of the government’s plan.
The last FNM voting convention, a contentious event that saw deep divides exposed within the party, was held in July 2016.
Former Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner and Elizabeth MP Dr Duane Sands challenged then Opposition Leader Dr Hubert Minnis and East Grand Bahama MP Peter Turnquest, former deputy prime minister and former minister of finance, for the top two leadership posts.
The Bahamas held its last general election in May 2017 and has to hold the next one by May 2022.