By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
PLP Chairman Bradley Roberts said the party cannot afford “bickering, backbiting and discord” as he called for unity ahead of the PLP’s November convention.
The remarks were made at a speech to the North Andros branch of the PLP on Friday.
His comments come at a time when members of the PLP are said to be growing “anxious” about a possible leadership race at the convention with incumbent party leader, Prime Minister Perry Christie and possible rivals.
“I turn my attention to the issue of unity,” Mr Roberts said. “I hasten to remind all that your enemy is not in this room nor is it within our great organisation. Your enemy is without – on the outside looking in and is seeking to do whatever it takes to remove you from the governance of this country.
“We can ill afford bickering, backbiting, discord and personal agendas as an organisation preparing itself for a general election. My brothers and sisters, we need all hands on deck – working on one agenda – the party’s agenda, which is to return this government to power. We cannot return to the dark days of the FNM with neglect and spitefulness. You had no economy three years ago and today, you have the foundations of a sound economy that promises to deliver essential goods and services to Bahamians and visitors alike.
“We must continue this wonderful journey together and bring BAMSI and all of North Andros to their fullest potential.”
Concern from some quarters in the PLP springs from the uncertainty surrounding Mr Christie’s future at a time when he still carries considerable weight in the party.
Until he declares his intentions, the race to lead the PLP appears to be in a stasis, with no parliamentarian publicly expressing an interest in taking him on.
Mr Christie, 72, has not given any clear indication of what his next move in politics will be. He has served two, non-consecutive terms as prime minister and has been the PLP’s leader for 18 years.
Some in the party have suggested that he step aside, and allow a new leader to take his place and marshal the party into the next election.
In January, Mr Christie said it would take a “compelling, tangible” reason for him to lead his party into the next general election, adding that he told his family in the lead-up to the last general election that the 2012 campaign would be his last.
Deputy Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis and Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe are the only sitting members of Parliament who have openly expressed an interest in running for leader, though both have said they would only seek the nomination if Mr Christie declines to do so himself.
Asked yesterday if Mr Christie and others who intend to vie for party leadership should announce their intentions before the November convention, Mr Roberts said “there is no precedent” for such an action.
“All positions in the party will be declared vacant (at the convention) and all those interested in the nomination will seek it. The constitution is very clear. There are no provisions in it for any advance announcement (of one’s intentions).”
Mr Roberts added that those who want to lead the party but will make their move contingent on Mr Christie’s decision should ask the prime minister what his plans are.
“They could ask him personally,” he said. “They might be afraid to ask him. But he’s no stranger to them.”
Recently, former PLP Chairman Raynard Rigby suggested that he might run for leader at the party’s convention.
When asked to comment on this recently, Mr Roberts’ laughed off Mr Rigby’s chances of a win.