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Free National Movement (FNM) In Confusion

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Meanwhile, another FNM official came out on Monday to publicly voice support for Mr. Ingraham becoming the new leader of the Official Opposition...

FNM In Confusion









By Candia Dames


Nassau, Bahamas

11 October 2005






A state of confusion appears to have gripped the Free National Movement as leader of the Official Opposition Alvin Smith still has not resigned more than one week after FNM MP’s won the Council’s support to replace him with former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham.


FNM party members who spoke with The Bahama Journal said they are anxious to see the matter resolved because the longer Mr. Smith and Mr. Ingraham take to make a decision the more the party appears to be in a state of "confusion and disarray".


The Bahama Journal confirmed last night that the MP’s are set to again meet today with FNM Leader Senator Tommy Turnquest who reportedly continues to resist the plan to have Mr. Ingraham returned as the FNM’s parliamentary leader.


On Monday, Mr. Smith said he had not yet resigned, but would still be willing to do so. However, he declined to commit to a timeframe for his resignation or even say whether he will definitely be resigning as leader of the Official Opposition anytime soon.


"Nothing has changed," he said after being pressed on his next move.

Senator Turnquest was also asked again whether the plan is still to have Mr. Ingraham become the leader of the Official Opposition. He too remained vague, saying that he plans to release a statement on the matter later in the week.


Mr. Ingraham on the weekend reportedly told Mr. Turnquest that he was not interested in becoming the Official Leader of the Opposition in the House of Assembly, but Mr. Turnquest did not confirm this.


Mr. Ingraham has also not made any public statements on the matter.


This reported stance by Mr. Ingraham has thrown the FNM MP’s in a state of confusion, as it was their understanding that he had been prepared to accept.


Just last week, Senator Turnquest expressed deep disappointment that this matter has become one of public speculation and debate.


When asked to confirm whether he met with Mr. Ingraham over the weekend, Senator Turnquest said he was "with Mr. Ingraham", but he declined to give any details into their discussions.


The FNM leader said "consultations" into this matter were still ongoing.


Meanwhile, another FNM official came out on Monday to publicly voice support for Mr. Ingraham becoming the new leader of the Official Opposition.


Darron Cash, the party’s national treasurer, issued a statement late yesterday saying, "I wish to state for the record that I strongly endorse the current move to elect Hubert Ingraham as the leader of the Official Opposition.


"He is a man of great skill, experience and with a proven track record of success. I am confident that he has a lot left to offer this country. Moreover, our nation would be well served by his return to the post of leader of the FNM and ultimately prime minister…given where I sit, I am extremely confident that a considerable majority of FNM executives share that opinion."


Mr. Cash added that growing numbers of Bahamians do not feel that they would be able to get "strong, decisive" leadership from Senator Turnquest.


"Those of us who advocate change do not do so lightly," he said. "But as we do so, it is important for party supporters to understand that it is not treachery, raw politics or disloyalty for those of us who supported Tommy Turnquest in 2001 to conclude that he is not the best person to lead the party today.


"Having gone through a general election, and after a three year period of testing, it is hard to deny what the vast majority of Bahamians are telling us.


The message from the people is clear and unequivocal: They do not have sufficient confidence in Tommy Turnquest and they will not support the FNM with him as leader. We can ignore that sentiment, but we do so at our own peril."


Mr. Cash also said that the concerns about the party’s leadership are not new.


"Not long after the national convention of 2003, many of us in the leadership of the party began to be besieged by concerns about where the FNM was headed," he said. "When in polite company people would speak euphemistically about the leadership question.


"Privately they would be very explicit in expressing doubts about Tommy Turnquest’s ability to gain sufficient public confidence and support to carry the FNM to victory in a general election."


Mr. Cash said he does not believe that Mr. Turnquest has succeeded in proving his leadership abilities during what amounted to the period of testing.


He added, "Those who wish to characterize this as a plot being hatched by Hubert Ingraham are dead wrong. It is no such thing. At this juncture he has every right to step further into the background and wash his hands of this matter. This would be the easy thing to do.


"In fact, I firmly believe that Hubert Ingraham does not want to return and has no desire to return. However, the country finds itself in an unfortunate position and his services are required in the national interest."



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