By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
FNM Chairman Charles Maynard said yesterday the party is “saddened” but the depths the PLP has sunk in an effort to “denigrate” former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham.
Mr Maynard was responding to claims made by Mr Ingraham that he was denied the opportunity to address the House of Assembly as a resigning member, an agreement he claimed to have made with the Speaker.
Mr Ingraham walked out of the House, Wednesday, without delivering his address after he was told by House Speaker Dr Kendall Major that he would not be speaking at the top of the agenda. Dr Major instead told Mr Ingraham he would be given an opportunity to speak during Item J - which specifically deals with the resignation of seats.
In a statement, Mr Maynard said the Speaker made a serious mistake that will haunt him forever.
“The decision of the Speaker of the House of Assembly yesterday, to deny the former Prime Minister, the senior Member of that Honourable body, a last opportunity to deliver a farewell address from the floor of the House of Assembly was unconscionable. It reflected a shocking lack of appreciation or understanding of our democratic tradition and ignorance of the rich parliamentary practices which make us a country of laws and not of men,” he said.
“The Speaker has made a serious blunder; one that ought not to have been possible in a county with a parliamentary tradition dating back 283 years. Regrettably, it is a mistake that cannot be made right and one which will blight the Speaker’s record forever.”
Mr Maynard also criticised Prime Minister Perry Christie for comments he made to the press regarding Mr Ingrahams departure from Parliament.
He said:” What is also inconceivable is the clumsy claim by Prime Minister Christie that he was unaware of the intention of the Speaker to deny the former Prime Minister the privilege of speaking early during the morning sitting of the House - as dictated by tradition and as provided for in the order of agenda for every sitting of the House of Assembly.”
“Mr Christie would do well to remember that it was his failure to control the actions of his Cabinet and of his backbench which contributed to and facilitated the scandals which marred his last administration and which brought much embarrassment and shame to our country.
“The Prime Minister should be aware that his support and his tolerance for unparliamentary actions by his members and his Government’s continued victimisation of Bahamian citizens who are not supporters of his Party and Government, bodes ill for the future of our democracy and hence for the future stability and economic development of our country.”
Describing Mr Ingraham as a Bahamian national hero and a Nation builder, Mr Maynard said former Prime Minister Ingraham’s commitment to transparency and accountability in government won the respect of Bahamians and of the international community.
He said the FNM is honoured to have benefited from the sage advice and leadership of Hubert Alexander Ingraham for some 19 years.