NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The House of Assembly will once again sit today in absence of opposition members who have maintained their boycott of parliamentary proceedings.
“We will be absenting ourselves from Parliament tomorrow,” said the leader of opposition business in the House Picewell Forbes, the MP for Mangrove Cay and South Andros.
“That is the directive of the leadership of the party.
“We will meet again later on this week to decide when we will be returning, but we will not be sitting in Parliament tomorrow.”
Forbes told Eyewitness News Online that the opposition has requested that Chief Clerk of the House David Forbes provide Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis with all resolutions and bills brought to Parliament.
The decision to withdraw from parliamentary proceedings was announced last Wednesday to “mark the seriousness” of the Progressive Liberal Party’s (PLP) concerns with what it said was the Minnis administration’s continued abuse of power.
“We will not rest until tyrannical attitudes and practices are forever vanquished from this society,” Davis told the media at a press conference shortly after the opposition walked out of the House following a brief, but heated exchange between governing and opposition members.
The verbal sparring match ensued after Davis decried the actions of the government relating to the arrests of former Urban Renewal Deputy Director Michelle Reckley and several other people.
PLP senators followed suit in the Upper Chamber last Thursday.
According to Davis, the failure of two Cabinet minister to resign is further evidence of the government’s abuse of power.
The opposition has called on Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands and Minister of National Security Marvin Dames, who both testified in the trial of former PLP Senator Frank Smith, to step down.
Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt acquitted Smith of the corruption and extortion charges brought against him.
In her ruling, the judge was critical of the conduct of Dames and Sands in relation to the case.
It was revealed during the case that Sands awarded a second contract of $1.8 million without board approval to the virtual complainant, who had accused Smith of extorting her in relation to a $516,000 contract to clean Princess Margaret Hospital.
It was also revealed that Dames met with the complainant before she made an official complaint to police.
Davis said both ministers should do the honourable thing and resign. He raised concerns about the administration of justice given the magistrate’s considerations.
Attorney General Carl Bethel has labelled the PLP’s move as an “unacceptable” intimidation tactic.
Asked whether the party was concerned about the opposition’s voice being absent from debate on critical proposed legislation, Forbes suggested the party has made it perspective known on bills before the House and will continue to do so, whether its members are physically in the Upper or Lower Chambers.
Forbes said the leadership is concerned with the “spectre that is being developed on the political landscape”.