House passes vote of confidence in PM

House passes vote of confidence in PM
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis gestures during his contribution to debate on the disaster bill during a previous session. (photo credit: BIS)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – After amending a motion tabled by the opposition seeking a no confidence vote in Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, government MPs today passed a vote of confidence in the prime minister.

Thirty-one MPs voted in favor of the motion and the four opposition MPs voted against it.

Three MPs were absent during the vote:  Pineridge MP Frederick McAlpine, Centreville MP Reece Chipman and Fox Hill MP Shonel Ferguson.

The vote comes three years after Minnis was ousted as leader of the opposition in Parliament.

Opposition Leader Philip Davis last week gave notice in Parliament of his intentions to move a resolution at the next sitting of the House.

The resolution centers on the government’s decision to lease the mall, which is partly owned by St Anne’s MP and former Cabinet minister Brent Symonette, for the relocation of the General Post Office.

The resolution accuses Minnis of “knowingly, intentionally and deliberately” misleading Parliament on the controversial lease agreement.

Davis said yesterday that “Regardless of the outcome of this no confidence vote, history will judge us on where and how we stood voted when the sacred institutions and conventions we swore to protect and defend were under attack and the subject of rank abuse.”

However, Leader of Government Business and Minister of Transport and Local Government Renward Wells, who has responsibility for the post office, moved a motion to amend the original resolution to move a vote of confidence in the prime minister.

The amendment deleted the opposition’s entire resolution.

“…the prime minister and the government which he leads have pursued The People’s Agenda and, through many positive initiatives, brought to and passed by this honorable House and Parliament, has successfully implemented a reform agenda designed to correct the many errors and abuses of the last PLP government, and brought economic growth and diversification of the economy, systematic improvements in the public service, greater accountability, and relief to thousands of suffering Bahamians,” the government’s resolution reads.

It furthers that: “…the resolution tabled by the opposition is designed to incite public resentment against the government in general and the member for St. Anne’s in particular: and also, to distract this House, the general public and the government in the performance of its duties.”

The resolution states that Minnis has led a government that has “successfully implemented many of the commitments made in The People’s Agenda” and outlined many of those initiatives.

“Now be it resolved that this honorable House has full confidence in the member of Killarney, and that he continues to serve as prime minister in this honorable House and throughout the nation.”

The opposition opposed the motion, citing Rule 62 of the House Rules, which notes that amendments to resolutions must me made 24 hours before the House sitting or with the consent of the House.

But Moultrie ruled that due to a precedent set in Parliament on his vote of no confidence last year, the amendment would be permitted.

Each member of Parliament was given an opportunity to make their case for their support for or against the prime minister.

The vote took place around 11pm.

After the vote, Minnis thanked his colleagues for their “overwhelming vote of confidence and support for me.”

“It is with deep appreciation that I thank them, the Bahamian people for the tremendous privilege as serving as head of government,” he said.

“With their support and God’s grace and guidance, I rededicated myself to advance the interests of all Bahamians, especially the poor and vulnerable.”

In December 2016, seven members of the FNM’s parliamentary caucus advised the governor general in a letter that they had lost confidence in Minnis as their leader.

The group, dubbed as the Rebel Seven, asked that he be replaced by then Long Island MP Butler-Turner.

The letter was signed by Butler-Turner; Central and South Abaco MP Edison Key; Central Grand Bahama MP Neko Grant; St. Anne’s MP Hubert Chipman; North Eleuthera MP Theo Neilly; Montagu MP Richard Lightbourn and Fort Charlotte MP Dr. Andre Rollins.