Former MP says hostile public disagreements within the party threatening public confidence
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — A former Cabinet Minister has expressed concern over the consistent discord and hostile public airing of disagreements within the Free National Movement (FNM), noting that the ongoing situation poses a potential threat to public confidence in the party’s ability to lead and be considered a viable alternative to the governing party.
Desmond Bannister, the former Deputy Prime Minister, conveyed his sentiments in a recent letter addressed to party leader Michael Pintard. He acknowledged the party’s historical commitment to advocating for the rights of the Bahamian people, earning admiration, respect, and support over many turbulent decades. Bannister went on to denounce what he termed as a “blatant and violent attack” on one of the party’s members outside FNM headquarters last Thursday night.
“Our party has always condemned political violence. In our beloved Bahamas, no person, least of all an executive of the party, should be subjected to politically inspired attacks on their person,” Banister noted.
The leadership of the Free National Movement has dismissed Richard Johnson’s claim that party leaders were involved in the physical attack against him outside an FNM meeting last week, calling the allegations false and regrettable.
Johnson was allegedly assaulted by a man outside the party’s headquarters last week Thursday, disrupting the meeting inside.
In his letter, Bannister wrote: “The recent constant discordant and hostile public airing of disagreements within the party together with litigation among party executives; allegations of unconstitutional interference in Constituency Associations; and the perceived failure of our party to support a sitting Member of Parliament as he faces criminal prosecution before the courts have all combined to negatively impact public confidence in our ability to lead.
“The vocal public enmity among loyal party supporters clearly hampers the ability of the FNM to be considered as a serious alternative to the governing party just when they appear to be conceding the next general election to us through their blatant miscues and alleged acts of malfeasance.”
In light of these factors, Bannister urged Pintard to call a national convention for the party at the earliest possible date.
“Any Convention will be a referendum on your leadership, but all political Conventions are referenda on political leadership. If you cannot retain that leadership post after more than two years of serving in that capacity, then this is simply not your time.
“Once a Convention is held and party members have been permitted to participate in free and fair leadership elections, the party leader will emerge with a national mandate on behalf of the FNM Members will appreciate that they have had the opportunity to freely campaign and vote for their chosen candidates during a national Convention. The losing candidates will be bound by the party’s mandate to coalesce with and support the elected party leadership team. The FNM will then have more than two years to earn the confidence of the Bahamian people once again, and to regain the Government,” Bannister stated.
He further argued that to delay calling a Convention would diminish confidence in Pintard’s leadership.
“Party members will question your confidence in remaining party leader, as well as your ability to raise the requisite amount of funds that will be required to hold a Convention and to successfully contest a General election.”
He continued: “Putting your position of leadership at risk during a national Convention will inspire Bahamians. Whether you win or lose, you will be considered a true leader through your voluntary vulnerability, and for being seen to put the party and the Bahamian people first. Should you win, your mandate cannot be subjected to legitimate questioning.”
Bannister stressed that he was not seeking to pass judgment on Pintard’s tenure in office but rather, to “encourage robust, passionate, and peaceful debate on issues that are important to all of us and to the future of the party.”