Minnis says term limit legislation to come before year end
NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Expressing confidence that he will win the next general election, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said yesterday he does not intend to serve more than two terms in office, and will retire from frontline politics in 2027.
While contributing to debate on two amendment bills that seek to change the dormant account regime, Minnis said he looks forward to bidding farewell to politics and plans to spend his days farming.
“He won’t be elected,” Minnis said of Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis. He (Davis) is going in 2022. I [am] going in 2027, but we will still be [friends]. We will be company. [In] 2027, I am going to bid politics farewell and I am going to farm. I am waiting to plant my exotic fruits. I know you’re going to buy some exotic fruits.”
In response to a sitting member who quipped about growing corned beef, Minnis said he still consumes the beef product, but has upgraded to corned beef goulash.
Long ahead of the last election, Minnis pledged to introduce legislation that would limit the terms of prime ministers to two terms. Nearly two weeks ago, the prime minister said the draft constitutional bills dealing with term limits and a fixed election date could soon be completed and made available to the public.
While he did not commit to a date, Minnis said the bills would be prepared before the end of the year.
The measures would require a referendum and it remains unclear when the prime minister intends to hold that exercise.
The opposition has said it will not support term limits for prime ministers.
Progressive Liberal Party Leader Philip Brave Davis has said term limits represents a threat to democracy.
“Democracy requires the will of the people, in its fullest expression to be carried out,” Davis said in September.
“Are you going to now trump that by telling the people that if they want someone to serve as prime minister for more than two years that, that cannot happen because of an act introduced by Parliament?”
Guyana introduced terms limits in 2000.
After the constitutional amendment was challenged in 2014, Guyana’s High Court ruled that as a feature of a democratic state, its people should be able to choose who represents them. Guyana’s Court of Appeal upheld that ruling.
In June, however, the Caribbean Court of Justice overturned the decision and ruled that there was nothing unconstitutional or unlawful about limiting a president to two terms in office.
Parliament in Trinidad and Tobago passed a two-term limit for prime ministers in August 2014.
Haiti also has a two-term limit for presidents, according to it constitution, but the terms cannot be served consecutively.
According to Minnis, new leadership after a maximum of two years would allow new views and ideas to push the nation forward.
Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham served three terms, of which two were consecutive.
He served from 1992 to 1997; 1997 to 2002, and 2007 to 2012.
Former Prime Minister Perry Christie served two non-consecutive terms: from 2002 to 2007, and 2012 to 2017. The last two constitutional referendums in The Bahamas were rejected by the electorate.