By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Deputy Chief Reporter
THE Free National Movement’s Pinewood Gardens Constituency Association has branded the party “deceitful” and “disrespectful” amid accusations that FNM Leader Dr Hubert Minnis broke assurances of support for talk show host Lincoln Bain as the party’s standard-bearer for this seat and chose Reuben Rahming, as the candidate for the 2017 general election.
While the party was in the process of organising its candidate’s launch last night, where Mr Rahming was officially ratified, executives of the association were drafting a stinging critism of Dr Minnis and rejecting the new candidate.
And in the strongest form of dismissal, several of the constituency association’s members attended last night’s event donning florescent orange signs and placards in support of Mr Bain and bashing Dr Minnis.
However, attempts to display their displeasure centre stage at the event were thwarted by Royal Bahamas Police Force officers, who contained the group a few feet away from the platform.
According to a letter obtained by The Tribune and sent to FNM executives, the Pinewood Gardens association said they were concerned that the leadership of the FNM were not acting in an equitable manner and requested a full inquiry into matters related to Mr Bain’s candidacy.
The association, in the letter, further insisted it was of the view that this situation was “personal” against Mr Bain and the result of Dr Minnis’ “strange and inexplicable relationship” with former Senator Lanisha Rolle.
Mrs Rolle resigned from the Senate earlier this year after a series of stories were published in The Tribune focusing on a secret recorded conversation between she and Mr Bain.
In the recording, she not only spoke disparagingly of key FNM members, but she revealed to Mr Bain that he would not receive the nod from the party for a candidacy and spoke freely of Dr Minnis’ purported strategies regarding internal party politics.
“We the executive of the Pinewood Constituency Association write to express our extreme disappointment and concern in regard to the behaviour of the leadership of the party regarding the selection of a candidate for our area as well as the high level of disregard, disrespect and outright deceitfulness levied towards the executives of the association,” the letter dated Novermber 12, 2016 read.
“On several occasions, we met with Dr Minnis and his team inclusive of Michael Foulkes (FNM Secretary General), Sidney Collie (FNM Chairman) and Joshua Sears. The most recent meeting was held on October 20, 2016, which ended with an agreement from Dr Minnis and Mr Collie that Lincoln’s name would be submitted to the council on October 27, 2016 as candidate for the Pinewood Constituency.
“Dr Minnis advised that he would remain neutral during the voting process. During this meeting another meeting in September, Dr Minnis asked us to consider mr Reuben Rahming as the candidate for Pinewood. Our association unanimously rejected Mr Rahming because we truly prefer Mr Lincoln Bain to be our standard bearer for our constituency.
“On the afternoon of October 27th, we submitted a letter to the Chairman, requesting that it be read to the council in support of Lincoln. Many of the association executives waited patiently outside the council meeting that evening to hear the results of the vote that we expected to take place that evening.
“To our surprise and disbelief, the vote never occurred and our letter was not read to the council. Instead, our chairman received a casual, verbal notification in the parking lot of the headquarters at the end of the council from both Mr Collie and Dr Minnis that the letter was not read to the council and that the matter was deferred. In addition, she was advised by Dr Minnis that whatever decision was made we needed to accept it.”
Upon meeting with Dr Minnis, Mr Collie and Mr Foulkes, in a follow up meeting on November 8, the constituency association said it was informed that the decision had been made for Mr Bain to be withdrawn as a potential candidate. However no reason was given for the change, the letter read.
“We all then asked Dr Minnis what happened to his agreement to have Mr Bain’s name put forth to the council. He indicated that the executives decided that there were too many issues with Lincoln and they decided to put forward another candidate to council. He did not state who the candidate was. We have been informed that at the last executives meeting the executive did not withdraw Mr Bain’s name as a candidate.
“Further we were informed that the executives did not vote on another candidate for Pinewood to be presented at the next council meeting. Further the executives are disappointed the Mr Bain’s name would be presented again to party executive after he had already passed that process. The executives and association of Pinewood are disgusted and appalled at the deceitfulness of the leader.”
“Please note that since last year and again earlier this year, every matter regarding Lincoln was explained and settled once he was questioned about them. There was nothing hidden from the Vetting Committee, the leadership or the association executives.
“So in the absence of a credible explanation from the leader, we are only left to assume that there is a deliberate and malicious effort to discredit Mr Bain as a viable candidate for the FNM,” the letter continued.
Addressiong this issue, FNM Deputy Leader Peter Turnquest said despite feelings of disappointment, the group had to focus on the common goal of the party, which he said was removing the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) led government.
“FNMs I think most of you will remember our convention and the issues that arose during that convention and I had say some things. Tonight we have some issues. See I don’t believe in hiding things. There are some issues,” he told the crowd of FNM supporters.
“But I want to say to those people who may feel that it didn’t work out in your favour. I want you to first remember that we all Bahamians before anythin else and if you believe in this country that we love called the bahamas then you must know that the PLP is not good for this country and so sometimes we are disappointed, things don’t always go our way but we must focus on what is best for this country and we know in this 2016, with all of the parties and individuals out there vying for your support that the Free National Movement is unquestionably the best solution for this Bahamas.”
He continued: “So we must put our personal hurts, our disappoints, put them aside. Recognise that we are one party that we are one people, we are one Bahamas and we must all work together for the futrue of this county. So I want to invite all those who feel disenfranchised to join us in this grand party. Join us to ensure that we put this country back on the right foot towards the path of progress.”
This is the latest sign of discord in the party since St Anne’s MP Hubert Chipman in early October announced that he withdrew his name from consideration for renomination in his constituency, saying it was clear the leader no longer wanted his contribution.
While stressing that he has had “differences” with Dr Minnis in the past, he said political parties committed to democracy routinely have such debates. However, under Dr Minnis’ leadership, these types of disagreements are met with animosity.
Under Dr Minnis’ leadership, Mr Chipman said, disagreements were “far too often met with resentment.”