CORRECTION: IN this article published on The Tribune’s website on Friday, it was alleged by sources within the Free National Movement that Dr Andre Rollins said at a council meeting on Thursday that had he known the opposition “was in such a precarious position, he would never have left the Progressive Liberal Party”.
However, Dr Rollins has taken issue with this claim, telling The Tribune that any assertion that he made this statement is “absolutely incorrect”.
The Tribune would like to correct the matter.
By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Free National Movement (FNM) is “teetering” on the brink of a leadership meltdown following an “explosive” council meeting, which saw serious threats levelled at Opposition leader Dr Hubert Minnis to have him removed from the post by way of a petition to the Governor General, The Tribune understands.
If certain members of Parliament followed through with this, it would be the second time that they have attempted to advise the country’s head of state that they have lost confidence in their leader. The first attempt was made late last year.
However, a party insider explained that this latest effort differs in that it has the support of six of the opposition's 10 MPs.
These include St Anne’s MP Hubert Chipman, Montagu MP Richard Lightbourn, Theo Neilly North Eleuthera MP, Central Grand Bahama MP Neko Grant, Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner and newcomer to the party, Fort Charlotte MP Dr Andre Rollins.
This threat, FNM sources told this newspaper, was apart of an ultimatum to convene a conclave geared toward deciding a date for the party to hold an early convention. The party announced last month that the event, where all posts would be up for challenge, would be held in November.
However, FNMs who spoke under the condition of anonymity said there is a push for the conclave to meet as early as Saturday - three weeks ahead of when the party’s executive council planned to convene the meeting.
The special body, tasked with deliberating an earlier convention date, was originally scheduled to meet on June 18.
On Thursday night, scores of FNMs gathered at the party’s headquarters for what some party sources called a “spirited” and “contentious” meeting.
It saw Dr Rollins, another source claimed, confront Dr Minnis about issues he saw within the organisation.
“The Fort Charlotte MP stood and spoke in truth of Dr Minnis’ leadership and the state of the organisation. He spoke of the issues that he saw. He told him if he feels that he has the support of the majority of the council then call the early convention. It’s that simple,” the source said.
Dr Rollins' words, according to those who attended the council meeting, sparked “fireworks” with those who support Dr Minnis. They called for Dr Rollins to take his seat.
“You know a lot of people agreed with what Rollins said but there were some Minnis attack dogs in the room who did not allow it. You know, since he has lost the support of the majority of the council in Nassau, he has resorted to spending thousands of dollars each month to fly in people from the Grand Bahama council so that he can have people in his corner. We see it as the height of desperation.”
There are Constitutional provisions for a leader of an official opposition party to be removed.
“If in judgment of the governor general the leader of the opposition is no longer a member of the House of Assembly best able to command the support of the majority of members of the House in opposition to the government or the member of the House who commands the support of the largest single group of members in opposition to the government who are prepared to support one leader.”
This is the latest round of controversy to mar the organisation.
Earlier this month, attorney Lanisha Rolle resigned from the Senate citing a “need to focus on a few personal matters”. She will be replaced by Dr Duane Sands.
The former FNM Senator's resignation came after The Tribune published stories about an alleged recording in which she made disparaging comments about several FNM MPs, including Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner, during a conversation with political hopeful Lincoln Bain.
Although her resignation was welcomed by some in the party, the incident is likely to have complicated efforts to rally them behind Dr Minnis, who appointed her to the Senate last year despite concerns from some in the party that she was inexperienced and undeserving of the position.
In the alleged recording of her conversation with Mr Bain, Mrs Rolle reportedly spoke at length about the political future of several members of the party with whom she was dissatisfied.
During the conversation, she allegedly informed Mr Bain that the party would not nominate him for MP in the Pinewood Gardens constituency, a move that prompted some members to accuse her of “traipsing around conducting party business as though she is an authoritative figure” within the party.
In response, she has insisted that her name has been “slandered”. She was adamant that the alleged recording was “unlawfully” recorded during a private conversation with Mr Bain.
The embattled former senator sought to defend herself from criticism, saying her name has been tarnished with innuendos, propaganda and accusations based on what people think about her meeting with Mr Bain.
Based on this “defamation” of her character, Mrs Rolle said she was fully within her right to sue the perpetrator of these actions if she chose to do so.
While maintaining that she did “not slip up”, the former senator said her resignation was sparked by personal reasons to the extent that she did not want to be a distraction to the party and its work.
Mrs Rolle courted controversy almost immediately after she was chosen by Dr Minnis to replace Heather Hunt in the Senate. Ms Hunt resigned in January 2015 when Dr Minnis asked her to step down from the post.
Mrs Rolle also faced a backlash in January, when she criticised Mrs Butler-Turner during an appearance on a radio talk show. She said the country would not support the Long Island MP as leader, adding that some MPs are “jealous” of Dr Minnis.
Her statements prompted several sitting MPs to demand that she apologise, which she eventually did.
Former Deputy Prime Minister Frank Watson said at the time that she had “no sense”, calling her one of Dr Minnis’ “tragic mistakes”.