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Free National Movement (FNM) members of parliament agreed to keep Alvin Smith as their leader

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FNM MP’s Stand Down




By Candia Dames


Nassau, Bahamas

12 October 2005



In a complete reversal of their collective decision, FNM members of parliament agreed on Tuesday to keep Alvin Smith as their leader in the House of Assembly.


The decision was made at a meeting held at the office of the Leader of the Opposition.


It came just over two weeks after Mr. Smith and other FNM MP’s voted during an FNM Council meeting in favour of former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham becoming the new leader of the FNM parliamentary team.


Following that vote, Montagu MP Brent Symonette had said that the MP’s had received an indication from Mr. Ingraham that he would be willing to lead them.


But there has been an apparent change of heart. It became apparent in recent days that Mr. Smith would remain leader as he appeared unsure whether he was still going to submit his resignation. On Monday, he said he was still prepared to do so, but did not know whether he would do so.


FNM Chairman Carl Bethel announced that the matter was cleared up at the Tuesday meeting.


In attendance at the meeting on Tuesday were Mr. Smith; FNM Leader Senator Tommy Turnquest; Mr. Symonette; Mr. Bethel; Lucaya MP Neko Grant; High Rock MP Kenneth Russell; Eight Mile Rock MP Lindy Russell; Mr. Ingraham; FNM Deputy Leader Sidney Collie; and Senators Gladys Sands and John Delaney.


In his statement, Mr. Bethel said, "After full and frank discussions and contributions by all persons present, the consensus arrived at by the group was that all matters connected with the Constitutional office of Leader of the Opposition would be revisited by FNM parliamentarians after the FNM’s national convention set for November 8 through 12."


The statement continued, "Pending the convention, no changes at all would be made to the Office of Leader of the Opposition, and…the Leader of the Opposition would continue to be Alvin Smith, MP, with the full and unqualified support and backing of all FNM Members of Parliament."


When contacted by The Bahama Journal on Tuesday, Senator Tommy Turnquest declined to comment on what transpired at the meeting.


In the House of Assembly last week, the issue of who is the Leader of the Official Opposition became a matter of debate with former FNM Cabinet Minister and now Independent Member of Parliament for Bamboo Town Tennyson Wells claiming that the country was facing a "constitutional crisis" because the vote at the party’s council meeting was a clear indication that Mr. Smith, as leader of the Official Opposition, did not enjoy the support of the other FNM MP’s.


Several key figures waded into the debate since the council vote, including former Deputy Prime Minister Frank Watson, who had indicated that the FNM would not win a general election with Senator Turnquest as leader.


He made the comment while a guest on the Love 97 Sunday programme "Jones and Company" a week and a half ago.


On Monday, the party’s treasurer, Darron Cash, issued a statement saying that the FNM needed Mr. Ingraham to return, not just as leader of the Official Opposition, but as party leader.


Prime Minister Perry Christie also commented on the matter in the House of Assembly last Wednesday, saying that there was a "constitutional contradiction" because government members know that even though Mr. Smith is the leader of the Official Opposition, he is in fact only that in name.


Prime Minister Christie had also said that he was saddened by the way certain party operatives were seeking to undermine Senator Turnquest.


He had branded the whole process "saddening and sickening".


Senator Turnquest has said that he regrets that the matter has become the subject of such widespread public debate and speculation.


He has said repeatedly that he fully expects to be returned as FNM leader during party elections at convention next month.


Mr. Ingraham has made no public statements on the matter, declining to answer reporters’ questions.


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