By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
ACCUSING Free National Movement Leader Dr Hubert Minnis of “public courting” of former Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette, Progressive Liberal Party Chairman Bradley Roberts yesterday claimed that Dr Minnis is attempting to reassemble his party’s “stop, cancel and review” team.
Mr Roberts levelled a scathing rebuke of the FNM leader and his style of leadership, positing that the emergence and quick elevation of cohorts of former Baha Mar developer, Sarkis Izmirlian, were blatant acts of fascism that have created a “toxic mix” that would return the country to “dire economic straits and ultimate collapse”.
The outspoken PLP chairman further claimed that, from all indications, the sole purpose of Dr Minnis’ recent moves are to “stop, review and cancel” all advancements to the Baha Mar project.
“The Bahamian people can ill afford this impending doom,” Mr Roberts said, “given the fact that (Dr) Minnis and (Mr) Symonette presided over the most spectacular economic decline of the country’s economy since the Great Depression.”
Accusing Dr Minnis of agreeing to “a hostile takeover of the FNM by Sarkis and his loyalists in exchange for money”, Mr Roberts was likely referring to the FNM’s Mount Moriah candidate, Marvin Dames, and Montagu candidate, Dionisio D’Aguilar - both of whom have done work for, or with, Mr Izmirlian in the past.
In 2011, then serving as Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mr Dames announced that he would step down from the post to take up a position as the Vice President of Security at Baha Mar. Mr D’Aguilar once served as Director at the stalled Cable Beach resort.
On the ratification of these candidates, Mr Roberts said he clearly understands Dr Minnis’ “motivation” for being “joined at the hips with Mr Izmirlian was one of “financial convenience”.
However, he said he could not understand his public push for Mr Symonette.
Mr Roberts said: “The only logical reason is (Dr) Minnis’ desperation for more money to fund the FNM’s election campaign. In light of the following facts, why would (he) even be bothered with (Mr) Symonette other than for his money?”
Mr Roberts went on to list six points, the first being: “Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham revealed in a Wiki Leaks interview with the US Embassy in the Bahamas that he was saddled with (Mr) Symonette as his Deputy Prime Minister and had no confidence in him.”
Secondly, according to Mr Roberts: “During the FNM’s July convention, Brent Symonette openly rejected Dr Minnis as Leader and openly supported Loretta Butler Turner.”
Next, Mr Roberts added: “Symonette exposed the financial fragility of the FNM and its challenges to pay for that convention.”
He continued: “(Mr) Symonette was a failure as Tourism Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister. His “Hip to Hop to the Bahamas Campaign” is still today regarded on Madison Avenue as the biggest marketing promotional flop in recent history.”
And then finally, Mr Roberts said: “Symonette is ‘Mr Market Forces’. He feels market forces should prevail while (Dr) Minnis has marketed himself as the champion of the small man. So why is he inviting Mr Big Business into his bosom?”
“Money is the only logical conclusion,” added Mr Roberts.
“Sarkis (Izmirlian) is seeking retribution and (Mr) Symonette represents big business, so how is (Dr) Minnis going to look out for the small man?”
“He cannot. He is conflicted. He is seeking to make two deals with the devil in exchange for money.
Mr Roberts said he doesn’t see the clarity of vision or political will needed to look out for ordinary Bahamians in Dr Minnis.
He added that the PLP shall stay vigilant and focused, not missing an opportunity to alert and tell the Bahamian people of what Dr Minnis, Mr Izmilian and Mr Symonette have cooked up for them.
Mr Symonette earlier this week told reporters that he was asked by Dr Minnis to consider a return to frontline politics. However, he said he has not made a formal response, suggesting that it would take a substantial offer to lure him out of political retirement.
Mr Symonette represented St Anne’s during the previous Ingraham administration.