PLP Chairman Bradley Roberts.
By TANEKA THOMPSON
Tribune News Editor
THE Progressive Liberal Party has postponed its national convention for the third time, pushing the anticipated event to early next year.
The convention was set for the last week of November, but has been further delayed due to the extensive damage Hurricane Matthew brought to several islands this month.
New Providence, Grand Bahama and Andros were the islands most affected by the storm.
The decision was made by the party’s National General Council during a meeting Thursday night.
“We decided to postpone it until late January or early, first week in February,” PLP Chairman Bradley Roberts told The Tribune after the meeting. “And arrangements have to be made with the hotel. It was done out of the concern and sympathy with the people who are still in the process of recovery.”
“It was an overwhelming decision and everybody had their say - we had a packed house tonight,” he added.
He said he does not anticipate another delay to the convention unless “somebody sends another hurricane.”
Last week, West Grand Bahama and Bimini MP Obie Wilchcombe laid out a compelling case for another postponement. He said many of his constituents were hard hit by the storm and are picking up the pieces of their lives. He urged the party to consider its priorities.
“There is something that we have to consider, Mr Speaker, and the PLP has to consider,” Mr Wilchcombe said. “And I say so because my constituents are asking me. And they are very concerned about it - should we move the convention? That is a very serious concern. Do we go to convention next month?
“My constituents don’t think we should, Mr Speaker, because how do you go to the convention next month? That’s my constituents, Mr Speaker. At the end of the day I don’t support it either. And you know why, you all don’t have constituents that you have to ensure come to New Providence. That is an issue that has to be raised and we have to look at it. We cannot, Mr Speaker, not deal with it.”
Former Attorney General Alfred Sears, who plans to run against Prime Minister Perry Christie for the party’s top post, on Sunday said there was no need to delay the convention.
He said the only change the party should consider is moving the venue to Grand Bahama so that all of the money spent on the event would be injected into that island’s economy.
“This is an essential democratic process within the PLP,” Mr Sears told The Tribune earlier this week. “It is not a governance process within a social organisation. We are talking about a process within the political organisation that is governing this country.”
The PLP has not held a convention since 2009, even though the party’s constitution mandates that one be held every year.
Initially, the convention was planned for November 2015 but was rescheduled for April 2016 because of Hurricane Joaquin, which pummelled the southern islands last October.
Then the April date was rescheduled to later this year to give attention to the June referendum on gender equality.