FNM leader Dr Hubert Minnis.
By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Free National Movement (FNM) will now hold its convention in July, roughly four months ahead of the pre-established November date.
The decision was made during an executive meeting called on Thursday night to quell discord among the party's parliamentary caucus. The party has announced a "full convention" scheduled for July 27 - 29 at the Melia Resort.
Sources told The Tribune that FNM Leader Dr Hubert Minnis opened Thursday's meeting with a declaration that if an early convention was necessary, he would oblige.
Last week six of the FNM’s 10 MPs gave Dr Minnis an ultimatum: call an early convention or they would write to Governor General Dame Marguerite Pindling to have him constitutionally removed as leader of the Official Opposition in Parliament.
Dr Minnis has downplayed the threat, telling The Tribune on Monday that he “has never felt so good” and is not concerned about the “noise in the market.”
However, on Thursday a seemingly despondent Dr Minnis shunned reporters on his way out of the FNM's Mackey Street headquarters.
When asked if the decision to hold an early convention would end persisting infighting throughout the ranks of the FNM, the Killarney MP flashed a smile, squeezed through a crowd of party supporters and exited the meeting hall.
On Wednesday, the six FNM parliamentary members at the centre of the latest push to oust Dr Minnis as leader - St Anne’s MP Hubert Chipman, Montagu MP Richard Lightbourn, North Eleuthera MP Theo Neilly, Central Grand Bahama MP Neko Grant, Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner and Fort Charlotte MP Dr Andre Rollins - disseminated a damning memorandum to the party’s council.
That memo described Dr Minnis’ perceived flaws, including his failure to take command of the party “at almost every turn” despite their repeated efforts to support him.
“For well over three intensely frustrating and oftentimes painful years the parliamentary team, and former colleagues, did everything they could to help and support the leader,” the memorandum, obtained by The Tribune, said.
Former Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette, who served in the last FNM administration, said the party can now start its “healing process.”
Mr Symonette suggested to reporters that the early convention would allow the party to sort through its issues ahead of 2017 general election.
"It's a beginning of a way to starting the healing process by which the party has to go through so that everyone can have their say and they can hold a vote if someone wants to run for various positions and we start to go forward to the real goal which is becoming the next government of the Bahamas," he said on Thursday night.
Meanwhile, Darron Cash, a former party chairman, called the decision to hold an early convention the “right choice”.
In recent weeks Mr Cash has castigated Dr Minnis for his style of leadership, lamenting that the FNM had become “a shadow of its former self”.
He previously stated that the party was at risk of being “sunk by an anchor of leadership that has been found wanting”.
On Thursday Mr Cash said the July date allows the FNM to “self-correct” and prove that it was “connected to reality”.
“. . . Reality is that the most important consideration in that which is in the best interest of the Bahamian people. Our objective is to make sure that we have a convention that has a meaningful election process where everyone who is interested in running for office has an opportunity to let their voices be heard," he said.
For more on this story, see Monday’s Tribune