By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Deputy Chief Reporter
PROGRESSIVE Liberal Party Chairman Bradley Roberts has branded the Free National Movement a deeply divided party as the organisation is perceived to have taken two contrasting positions over the unsealing of documents related to the new deal to open $3.5 billion Baha Mar resort.
On Sunday, the FNM announced that it is collecting signatures for an online petition to demonstrate the level of public displeasure with the sealed deal.
However, on Tuesday, FNM Senator Carl Bethel told The Tribune that legally there is nothing the party can do to force the judiciary to unseal the records. He explained that there is no legal basis for the political organisation to assert a right to know in court in connection with this matter.
These differing positions, Mr Roberts said, was the latest clear example of the “woefully deficient” decision making process and overall judgment of FNM Leader Dr Hubert Minnis. Last month Mr Roberts called on Mr Bethel to petition the Supreme Court to unseal the documents and to argue his reasons for having it done, if the FNM was serious about its argument.
“Senator Carl Bethel finally woke up from his Rip Van Wrinklesque cryogenic slumber, ostensibly after Dr Minnis and Sidney Collie launched a signature petition to have the documents unsealed by the Supreme Court, to set the record straight that the Free National Movement has no legal basis for such a court challenge,” Mr Roberts said in a press statement on Wednesday.
“There is deep division in the FNM on this important and straightforward issue of national import when there should be national unity on the way forward for Baha Mar and our national economy.
“Also, thinking and discerning Bahamians are wondering who is serving as legal advisor to (the) leader of the opposition as his national chairman a few days earlier urged Bahamians to endorse the petition reiterating his party’s stance that Prime Minister Perry Christie was duty-bound to make the Baha Mar agreement public, which was sealed by the Supreme Court at the request of the China EXIM Bank.”
He added: “This is just the latest clear example of the woefully deficient decision making process and overall judgment of Dr Minnis as opposition leader; it is a sad culture of confusion and directionless. Minnis never denies himself an opportunity to fumble, bumble and trip over himself on issue after issue. He is one big ball of confusion.”
Mr Roberts went on to defend the Christie administration, saying it maintained its policy to have the development completed, opened and for unsecured Bahamian creditors to be paid what they are owed.
“This was the position on June 29, 2015 and that is the government’s position today. The prime minister has demonstrated strong and focused leadership, great command of the substantive issues, tenacity, optimism and the requisite confidence befitting the leader of a nation.
“Dr Minnis will do well to abandon his futile fool’s errand and political posturing and just publicly admit that Prime Minister Christie designed and executed the right policy on Baha Mar in the interest of all Bahamians as there is finally a silver lining in this ongoing saga,” Mr Roberts said.
The government has been heavily criticised over the fact that the deal is hidden from public view. It has led Mr Christie several times to defend the government in an attempt to free it from any blame in this issue. He has said that the court documents were sealed at the request of the Export-Import Bank of China.
However, the backlash persists.