NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis yesterday challenged the prime minister to stand ready to debate him on a national stage in the upcoming general election campaign.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the opening of the western MacFit360 gym, Davis reiterated his position on the matter.
“I said yes and I am and I ask you to ask him whether he is prepared,” he said.
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis, who was also present at the event, once again shied away from speaking with the media on the sidelines — a decision he has taken throughout his tenure in office.
Davis told the press corps: “I’m here standing up, responding to your questions, and I can’t remember ever seeing y’all asking him questions. Don’t you think it’s time for him to be answering you all?”
Minnis has yet to commit to a national debate in the upcoming general election campaign and in 2015 said he had no interest in a public debate.
However, in the lead-up to the 2017 General Election, Minnis had insisted he was “not afraid” to publicly debate then-Prime Minister Perry Christie.
At the time, Christie challenged both Minnis and then-Democratic National Alliance (DNA) Leader Branville McCartney to a debate on national issues.
While McCartney accepted the challenge and offered to sponsor the event, Minnis told the Tribune Christie was simply deflecting from the issues impacting Bahamians.
Minnis has been significantly criticized over the years for being unable to speak on his feet.
His tenure as prime minister has seen him presenting more national addresses than press conferences, and largely avoiding questions from the media.
Meanwhile, DNA Leader Arinthia Komolafe has gone on record saying that she is prepared for the challenge of a public debate.
The prime minister has yet to call a date for the election, which only he holds the power to do, though both PLP and Free National Movement (FNM) insiders believe it will be called before the next budget debate.
The PLP began its search for new candidates in earnest just several months after it suffered a landslide defeat at the May 2017 polls, winning only four of the 39 seats in the House of Assembly.
The party is expected to complete its slate of candidates for the next general election by next week, according to Davis, in anticipation of the prime minister calling an early election.
Davis, who tested positive for COVID-19 in August last year, insisted yesterday he is in good health and ready to lead the country.
“I think health is always a question. I don’t know that there are any issues of health relating to health to he and I, and if there are any questions, then that can be asked,” Davis said.
“But I’m not aware that the prime minister has any issues that he ought to be concerned about. I don’t have any. I have none of the [non-communicable] diseases that usually afflict the Bahamian people.
“So, I know that my last health bill was clean and I have no issues with my health.”
Davis assured he will be taking the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it comes and protocols are enacted.