By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
FREE National Movement Leader Dr Hubert Minnis said yesterday he is “not afraid” to publicly debate Prime Minister Perry Christie, but only after a general election is called.
His acceptance of this challenge is a turn around from his position in 2015.
At the time, Mr Christie implored students at the College of the Bahamas to invite him, Dr Minnis and Democratic National Alliance (DNA) Leader Branville McCartney to a public debate to determine who of the three has a better grasp of national issues. Last year, Dr Minnis said he had no interest in a public debate, contending that he was “by far more interested in” defeating Mr Christie in a general election.
Yesterday the Killarney MP, who has been heavily criticised as being a poor orator incapable of speaking on his feet, said that while he was open to the idea, he saw it as nothing more than the prime minister attempting to “deflect” from the issues that heavily affect Bahamians.
Last week, the prime minister said political leaders must be mandated to demonstrate whether they have the capacity to manage a country, adding that the country had reached a level of sophistication that warrants public debates.
“I am not afraid of Christie and a debate,” Dr Minnis said when he was contacted by The Tribune. “Call a general election and let’s rock and roll. He knows that there are procedures to follow.
“But I see this as Christie deflecting from the issues that are seriously causing hurt and pain among Bahamians. He must be made to answer those types of questions. At this point in time I am only concerned about that, the hurt, pain and the losses Bahamians suffer.
“He must answer the questions pertaining to why people don’t trust him and the government and the hundreds of questions waiting to be answered on the House of Assembly floor.”
Last Wednesday during the launch of the Inter-American Development Bank’s Vision 2040 two-day seminar, Mr Christie hinted at his support of a debate.
He said: “So you find that it is difficult to get whoever is the leader of the opposition to stand on the same platform as me and then openly discuss and debate where we are going.
“It has been difficult, has not been a part of our culture and the country has not seen it necessary to bring that about,” he added.
Mr Christie made similar comments in 2015 during a speech at the College of the Bahamas’ School of Journalism, when he told students present that he would be open to a debate between himself, Dr Minnis and Mr McCartney.
“Bring Minnis here, bring Branville here, Christie here and say ‘tell us what you believe in,’ and make your judgment. Ask questions, see who has a command of the country, who understands where the country ought to be going and who could speak to those issues,” Mr Christie said at the time.
Mr McCartney subsequently accepted the challenge and also offered to sponsor the event.