Former Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette
By RICARDO WELLS
and RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporters
FORMER Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette yesterday said he is open to brokering discussions with the FNM and DNA, suggesting that a coalition of some sort between the two groups provides voters the “best possible choice” in the next general election.
Mr Symonette said while the Free National Movement is strong enough to beat the Progressive Liberal Party without a deal with the third party, a strong opposition front could easily defeat an already waning, Christie-led regime.
When contacted for his view, FNM Deputy Leader Peter Turnquest said he agrees that those who oppose the government must join forces to defeat the PLP in the next general election. However, he stressed that the FNM was the “only real alternative” to the PLP.
He added that his party’s internal data shows it is in good shape to win the next general election regardless of whether it joins forces with the DNA and prominent independents.
Their comments came a day after independent Ft Charlotte MP Dr Andre Rollins told The Tribune that opposition forces and independent representatives should form a coalition to take on the PLP ahead of the next general election instead of splintering into different groups.
Last week, independent Marco City MP Greg Moss announced his plans to form and lead a new party ahead of the next election. Mr Moss and Dr Rollins both quit the PLP in June, citing differences with its leadership.
“The FNM is more than strong enough to go it alone, but the mending of the political fences would assure a win in the upcoming election because that is what the country wants,” Mr Symonette said when contacted for comment.
He added that the PLP’s failed policies have forced many of its supporters to now consider alternatives ahead of the 2017 election, saying that a united approach by the DNA and the FNM would make the choice clear.
“Both sides should see the point that this could offer. I think they do. A merging of the two sides would give voters the best possible choice, because if you take the positives of both groups you can easily form a strong platform to turn this country around.
“I would hope that behind the scenes, both sides are working on something, some common ground because that would be in the best interest of the Bahamian people.”
When asked if he would help facilitate such a conversation, Mr Symonette said: “If I was to receive a call asking me to help with that process, I would be open to assisting with that project.”
He added that his push for such a union had nothing to do with the present leadership of the FNM, but more to do with what such a deal could offer.
“I am comfortable with the present leadership of the (FNM). The Free National Movement has a capable leader in Hubert Minnis and an efficient deputy in Mr Turnquest – they were duly elected and are performing in their capacities. My push has more to do with assuring a win in 2017.”
Meanwhile, Mr Turnquest said he agrees with Dr Rollins’ position that it is important for those who want to unseat the PLP to join forces.
“We believe the FNM provides the only viable alternative to get the current government out and would certainly encourage the other parties to unite with us,” Mr Turnquest said. “We are all interested in the same goal, which is to rescue the country. And all people of goodwill certainly have room for discussions to this end. Conversations have been going on with any number of people with how they can help us in this endeavour. At the end of the day, we ask all parties to recognise that sometimes you have to sacrifice self for the good of the country. I repeat – we are the only real alternative.”
He added: “Absolutely the FNM could still win (regardless of whether we unite or not). Our data suggests that we are well on our way to securing victory with or without the support of the third parties. So the FNM is a very strong organisation with a history and track record. Mr McCartney, my leader, Mr Moss – we all want the same thing: a sound government free from corruption that is working in the best interest of a modern Bahamas. We are also nationalists and despite the ambitions we may have, we believe the country comes before personal desires and ambitions. We believe any thing is possible at this stage.”
If the DNA were to merge with the FNM, Mr Symonette said he doesn’t see DNA Leader Branville McCartney coming in as the new FNM leader or deputy leader, but said some “concessions” would have to be made.
The former St Anne’s MP added: “You have to understand, the PLP has lost a lot of sway with their present actions. The FNM has done a lot to capitalise on that, but they have to do all they can to guarantee a win in 2017.”
Mr McCartney has maintained that there is no chance that he would return to the FNM – a party from which he resigned amidst mounting disagreements in 2011.