Former FNM MP accuses prime minister of “shutting the media out”

Former FNM MP accuses prime minister of “shutting the media out”
Dr Andre Rollins

Rollins criticizes decision to leave uninfected islands closed

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Former Fort Charlotte MP Dr Andre Rollins yesterday suggested the prime minister is insulating himself from questions from the media to the detriment of the public during the COVID-19 crisis.

He was referring to Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis not holding interactive press conference, which allows for questions, since assuming the portfolio of the Ministry of Health earlier this month.

In a Facebook post, the former MP also questioned the rationale behind keeping certain islands that have observed zero cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) closed.

As of Sunday, the only islands with infected cases are New Providence (74), Grand Bahama (8), Bimini (13) and Cat Cay (1).

Rollins asked whether the decision to keep some uninfected islands closed was borne of “pure political spite.”

“This is the problem with shutting the media out from their critical role in a democracy,” Rollins posted on his Facebook page.

“When Bahamians in islands like Eleuthera and Exuma, which have had no COVID-19 cases, want to know what rationalization the government has employed to keep their economies closed and put their livelihoods in further jeopardy, they cannot get an answer from their prime minister.

“They are left to speculate that there is no rational justification, just pure political spite.”

Both islands have had zero cases of the virus.

FNM MP Hank Johnson represents South and Central Eleuthera.

PLP MP Chester Cooper, the deputy leader of the party, represents Exumas and Ragged Island.

The prime minister announced the reopening of commercial activity on four more islands beginning today: Cat Island, Long Island, Abaco and Andros.

Inagua, Ragged Island, Rum Cay, Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins and Long Cay were reopened to commercial activity earlier this month.

Cooper has also called on the prime minister to reopen Exuma for commercial activity or provide medical justification for its continued closure.

Weekday curfew and weekend lockdown measures remain in place for all islands.

Rollins has been outspoken in recent weeks on national issues after largely remaining out of the public spotlight since the 2017 general election.

He did not receive a nomination from the FNM and ultimately did not run, though he expressed interest in representing Long Island at the time.

Rollins was well known for calling out the former PLP administration when he was a member in the party.

He continued in that spirit when he joined the Free National Movement mid-term, and his contributions to debate in Parliament often spoke of leaders being held accountable to higher standards in public life.

Rollins was one of seven FNM MPs who strongly opposed Dr Hubert Minnis’ leadership and wrote to the governor general in December 2016 to remove Minnis as leader of the opposition.

None of the seven were tapped for the general election the following year that saw the FNM sweep the polls and Minnis sworn in as prime minister.