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Mitchell Warns Ingraham To Take Bahamians For Fools

PRIME Minister Hubert Ingraham should not try to "take Bahamians for fools" over Haitian President Michel Martelly's recent visit, opposition MP Fred Mitchell warned.

Responding to Mr Ingraham's statement that he did not invite the Haitian leader to stop in the country last week, Mr Mitchell said everyone who comes to the country must have the government's permission.

He said: "The Prime Minister cannot be the head of our country and say as is quoted that no head of state of another friendly country needs an invitation to come to the Bahamas from the Bahamas government.

"This is on the face of it is patently absurd. This is all the more so since the government said nothing when the visit was described as an 'official' visit.

"This was not a tourist coming to enjoy the beaches."

Mr Mitchell said even a head of state from a friendly country would not travel to the Bahamas without establishing through his ambassador in advance whether or not the government of the Bahamas would find the visit convenient.

"That is the protocol of the matter. If the Bahamas government did not find it convenient for the president to come and communicated that to the head of state, then that head of state would not have come," Mr Mitchell said.

"The Prime Minister must not take the Bahamian people for fools. Bahamians understand the protocols and procedures.

"In my experience, the Haitian government is very meticulous in their protocol arrangements and their president would not have come if the Bahamian government had objected.

"The Prime Minister's comments are simply designed to get himself and his party out of the political firestorm that has now broken out by saying that they did not know; by trying to disassociate themselves from the visit."

Opposition politicians characterised Mr Martelly's suggestion to Haitian-Bahamians that they vote according to their interests as a ploy by the government to secure the "Haitian vote".

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