Electorate will be consulted on constitutional changes
NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said the government will table legislation to introduce term limits for prime ministers and a fixed election date early this year.
In an interview with Eyewitness News Online, the prime minister said while he had hoped to table those bills in Parliament before the end of 2018, the election campaign promise to introduce the measures are at the forefront of the government’s focus.
“We still have all intentions of bringing forth the legislation,” Minnis said.
“I was hoping to table it before the end of the year (2018).
“I’m going to table it as soon as possible as I was hoping to do that before the end of the year.”
Minnis was unable to say when Parliament could debate the legislation.
When asked how soon a referendum could be held, the prime minister said he was unable to say definitively, as there is a process.
Asked whether he was concerned about the opposition’s apparent lack of support and whether this could impact the success of a referendum if and when one is held, Minnis said there will be a consultation period with the electorate to gauge public sentiment on the issue.
“We will have national discussion with respect to it,” he said.
“We will have national discussion so Bahamians can have their input on exactly what the terms limits; what it means; why [we] are advancing toward the; what are the benefits, and that will be a national discussion. The opposition will have their say.”
He added, “I do believe in term limits. That has not changed.”
Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis has expressed support of a fixed date for general elections, but does not support term limits for prime ministers on the basis that it represents a threat to democracy.
As it relates to the government’s intention to introduce term limits, Davis said, “Democracy requires the will of the people, in its fullest expression to be carried out.
“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?”
Ahead of his trip to the United Nations’ 73rd General Assembly in New York in late September, Minnis indicated that the bills would be tabled within two weeks.
He also said Cabinet will begin advancing those discussions beginning in October.
Following his keynote address at the Securities Commission of The Bahamas’ Public Companies Forum at the British Colonial Hilton in November, Minnis said the bills will be tabled in Parliament before the end of the year.