#TheBahamas, September 18, 2021 – Concluding with another sweeping swing, Bahamians for the fifth consecutive General Election have made the swap between the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and the Free National Movement (FNM) and this time, the Hubert Minnis-led FNM Administration saw the curtain close dramatically on its performance in exchange for the ‘New Day’ alternative presented by Philip ‘Brave’ Davis, leader of the PLP.
The polls closed at 6pm, the call to concede came at 9 pm. Just as the general elections came in a snap for The Bahamas, so did the realization for Dr. Hubert Minnis that his Free National Movement party failed to recapture the majority of seats in parliament and just like that, Philip Brave Davis became the prime minister elect for The Bahamas.
“We are going to listen. We are going to consult widely. And we are going to bring people together. That is the best way to make progress as a nation. No leader and no government should be isolated from the people. I also commit to lifting the veil of secrecy on that which has gone before us, so that all of the arrangements under which we have to live are transparent, and those who authored them are accountable. We will govern in the interests of all Bahamians, not just the privileged few. We will act in ways that rebuild trust between the government and the Bahamian people. We will uphold the constitution and the rule of law, and ensure that everyone is treated fairly, so that it s not one rule for one set of people, and another for another set of people,” said Hon Philip Davis, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas in remarks at his Ceremonial Swearing in which took place at the Baha Mar Ballroom on (today) Saturday September 18, 2021.
In epic fashion this year’s elections unraveled and in equally stunning loss, the FNM was resoundingly rejected. The party held onto only seven constituencies; the PLP racking up 32 seats in the House of Assembly. In 2017, the split was four to the PLP and 35 members of parliament for the FNM.
It was a polling day which observers believe has drawn the lowest voter turn-out in history and one which ratified the highest number of candidates of any voting day.
There were 228 individuals who offered for the 39 seats. Added to the fray were virtually unknown organisations like the UCP, BCP, the KGM and the GCP; more familiar to Bahamians as an alternative to the usual PLP and FNM offering were the Coalition of Independents (COI), just several months old and the Democratic National Alliance (DNA), making its third appearance on the ballots.
The Parliamentary Registration Department informed there were 192,587 registered voters across the archipelago; 20,000 of them new. However, a staggering number of people were not registered as they were caught off guard by the surprise announcement of September 2021 as Election Day instead of a May 2022.
The Parliamentary Registration Department was plunged – ready or not – into a snap process, having to manage a highly contentious race in the midst of the killer coronavirus pandemic.
“I would like to thank the tens of thousands of Bahamians from across The Bahamas who voted for Free National Movement candidates. I also congratulate the FNM candidates who won seats in the House of Assembly. I am in that number, and again my gratitude goes out to the people of Killarney for making me their representative for the fourth consecutive time. I will lead the Free National Movement into the House as the leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. The Bahamas has a proud democratic tradition. The people decide who serves as government,” expressed Dr. Hubert Minnis, in his Concession Speech on the night of the election September 16, 2021.
Hubert Minnis for the fourth consecutive time won the majority of votes, to hold onto the Killarney Constituency.
“We did not win this time. But I say to the next generation of FNMs that you should stay firm to this party’s founding ideals. Always put the people first, and be honest in government. The people have asked us to be the opposition. We will ensure the people’s resources are spent properly. We will ensure there is accountability. We will oppose when necessary. We will agree when the Government’s plans are in the best interests of the people,” said Dr. Minnis in an issued statement.
The outgoing prime minister was criticised for his cowardly exit; again dodging media cameras, scrutiny and a live audience. It also remains to be seen if indeed Dr. Minnis will return as the Leader of the Opposition, given his decisive loss as leader.
With his New Day was the theme guiding his first declarations to Bahamians as the fifth prime minister of the Commonwealth, Brave Davis assured there is no easy work ahead, but pledged results with the Bahamian people remaining the PLP’s north star.
“There is much work to be done; but I know that by working together, we can succeed and build the kind of prosperous, independent Bahamas that our founding fathers dreamed for us. It will not happen overnight, but with steady progress, we will get there. I pray God’s blessings and guidance upon us all, and in the words of St. Francis, “make us instruments of your peace; where there is discord, let me bring union; where there is doubt, let me bring faith; where there is despair, let me bring hope; where there is sadness, let me bring joy.
I thank God for having blessed us with this beautiful country, and the bountiful birthright which we have inherited.”
Independents and other political parties made more of an impression in the 2021 national poll than ever before, however none was able to breakthrough to earn a seat at the parliamentary table.
“We didn’t step forward to become famous or for self-recognition. We didn’t step forward for our own families to be victimized and threatened. We didn’t step forward for our names to be lied on and smeared.We stepped forward because we believed and still do in the Bahamian people,” said Lincoln Bain, leader of the COI, which in its debut rolled in as the third most popular party, he added, “We will continue this fight because we are not a flash in the frying pan organization. We will continue the fight until EVERY Bahamian has benefited from our #NaturalResources.”
The election was observed by CARICOM observers led by former Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding.
Official General Election results are still being processed by the Parliamentary Registration Department.
Statement From The Ministry of Foreign Affairs – On Order For All Bahamians To Leave Haiti
Bahamas takes in 396 Haitian migrants; shocking interception
By Sherrica Thompson
#TheBahamas, January 25, 2023 – In what is being described by Bahamian officials as one of the largest human smuggling incidents in the region, 394 Haitian migrants were intercepted by the United States Coast Guard near Cay Sal Island on Saturday, January 21.
According to immigration officials in The Bahamas, the migrants will be processed on the island of Inagua and later repatriated.
US Coast Guard spokeswoman Nicole Groll described the condition of the intercepted boat to the Associated Press on Monday. She said, “it was grossly overloaded and very much unsafe.”
The officials did not provide any further information on the matter.
The recent apprehension brings the total number of Haitian migrants intercepted in Bahamian waters since the start of the year to just over five hundred (500) persons.
Due to the worsening humanitarian, a surge in gang violence and deepening political instability in Haiti, thousands of Haitians are fleeing their country in search of a better life for themselves and family.
Governor and Premier make official visit to the Commonwealth of the Bahamas
#TurksandCaicos, January 25, 2023 – On 4th to 8th December 2022, a delegation led by His Excellency the Governor, Nigel Dakin and the Premier, Honorable Charles W. Missick made an official visit to the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. The delegation also included officials from the National Security Secretariat, Police, TCI Regiment and the Office of the Premier.
Day one of the three-day visit included meetings with: the Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Phillip Davis; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Public Service, Hon. Frederick Mitchell; the Ministry of National Security, Hon. Wayne Monroe; the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, Commodore Raymond King and the British High Commission.
The agenda for the second day involved a courtesy call with H.E. Governor General, Sir Cornelius Smith, followed by detailed meetings with the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, led by its Commander, Dr Raymond King and the Royal Bahamas Police Force led by Deputy Commissioner of Police, Leamond Deleveaux. This included a tour of the Defence Force base at Coral Harbour. The second day ended with a meeting with the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Michael Pintard.
On the third day, the TCI delegation was hosted by the United States Embassy led by Mrs. Usha Pitts, Charge d’ Affaires, and the United States Coast Guard led by Captain Benjamin Golightly. That evening a reception was held by the Charge d’ Affaires and, on the previous evening, a formal Dinner by the Governor General.
The focus of the visit was threefold – to say thank you to the Government of the Bahamas for their support over the last year – particularly the deployment of twenty-four Bahamian Police Officers to TCI and the operationalizing of the Bahamas/TCI Ship-Rider Agreement. TCI also noted and welcomed the decentralization of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force which brought naval assets closer to the TCI borders and opportunities to further fuse and co-ordinate our collective surveillance assets, including TCI being invited to provide Liaison Officers in the Bahamas Defense Force Command Centre to better fuse maritime intelligence.
Secondly, to brief on and discuss matters of shared National Security interests and threats. Thematic areas of mutual interest included: Operation Bahamas and Turks and Caicos (OPBAT) including the next OPBAT conference, scheduled for March 2023; maritime security (future ratification of jurisdictional boundaries between the TCI and Bahamas); expansion of coastal radar networks; decentralization of Defence Force naval assets; expanding the Bahamas/TCI Ship-Rider program; and sharing of resources, information and intelligence which will be aided by TCI’s new legal intercept provisions.
Additionally, through discussions with Bahamian colleagues, it was evident that TCI and the Bahamas face similar threats individually and collectively in the region including trans-national gangs, smuggling of people, illicit drugs and weapons and the continued destabilization of Haiti – which if left unchecked – could lead to a mass migration event that could have significant implications for the Lucayan Island chain (TCI and Bahamas).
Thirdly, the delegation from TCI sought to explore areas to deepen and strengthen TCI’s friendship with the Bahamas – now and in the future. TCI advised of its intention to seek full membership of CARICOM – for which a letter of entrustment that allows for this negotiation has been provided by the United Kingdom. Deliberations consisted of a request to extend the Bahamian Police contingent in TCI – since agreed – and strengthening the: National Security-to-National Security, Police-to-Police and Military–to-Military relationships including information sharing, improved collaboration and training.
Moreover, the unanimous resolve is to establish and strengthen a relationship between our national security functions on all matters of national security. In this first instance, both countries will seek to learn from each other on two key common challenges: informal settlements and causes of crime.
Furthermore, the TCI offered the Royal Bahamas Defence Force an opportunity to host and deploy their naval assets in Grand Turk, to jointly task the aerial surveillance aircraft that is being procured by the United Kingdom, for TCI, and to share – in real time, TCI’s coastal radar network with the Maritime Operations Center in the Bahamas. This mutually beneficial arrangement will expand the Bahamian southern border of protection while allowing for increased coverage of TCI’s waters.
Also, the Premier, in communicating his intention to open an official TCIG office in Nassau in February 2023 had this to say:
“As part of the Turks and Caicos development goals it is important to leverage the broad contribution that our kin and kind offer to the homeland. While we are reaching out to our global diaspora family it is generally believed that the largest proportion of Turks and Caicos Islanders live through-out the Bahamas: for that reason it is only fitting that we start by establishing an office there. The office will not have consular status but will with deference to the Governor’s office liaise with the British High Commission in Nassau where and when required to do so.
Additionally, the Bahamas is our closest neighbour. The people of our countries share similar cultures, close family ties and perform important roles in each other countries. We also enjoy a high level of informal co-operation in many fields including security, medicine law and politics. Additionally, we share leadership of several church and civic organisations. The Bahamas has been a friend to the Turks and Caicos Islands. It is only fitting that we formally recognise our friendship and a commitment to work closely together in our mutual interest. An office in the Nassau will help us to do just that. We also welcome the expressed intention of the Bahamas to establish a consular office in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
H.E Nigel Dakin said:
“The Bahamas could not have made us feel more welcome or valued. The regional and trans-national threats we face are too large for TCI to face alone. Indeed, because criminals and smugglers so easily cross borders, they are too large for the Bahamas, or even the US, to face alone. We are stronger together – and our individual security needs to be increasingly thought of in terms of our collective security.
We have worked diligently over recent years to strengthen OPBAT. We can feel the difference at sea, and the Bahamas support to our Policing effort has helped demonstrate that very clearly to our population on land.
But there is so much more we can do together – particularly in the area of intelligence sharing, where TCI is developing, and will develop further strength, that our allies can draw on. While the threat won’t diminish, I’m confident our collective response will only now accelerate, and we can disrupt and arrest those that believe they can operate between and against our jurisdictions. I look forward to the OPBAT Conference in March to continue this engagement and I’m grateful that the Bahama’s have chosen to continue their Tactical Firearms Officer Support to us as we enter 2023”.
Header: (From Left to right: Premier Hon. C. Washington Misick, HE Governor Nigel Dakin, Prime Minister Hon. Philip Brave Davis and Deputy Prime Minister Hon. E. Chester Cooper)
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