By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
FREE National Movement Leader Dr Hubert Minnis yesterday accused the Christie administration of “gerrymandering the constituencies,” one day after House Speaker Dr Kendal Major confirmed that the long-awaited Constituencies Commission report had been completed.
In a statement released to the press Tuesday, Dr Minnis said despite the Progressive Liberal Party’s best efforts, this administration “cannot stop the will of the Bahamian people,” insisting that the electorate has grown tired of the administration’s futile endeavours and are now ready, more than ever, to vote them out of office once an election date is chosen.
“After missing numerous constitutional and self-imposed deadlines, the PLP’s Boundaries Commission finally submitted their report to Government House on Monday,” Dr Minnis’ statement said.
“The PLP has spent many months gerrymandering the constituencies to try to save their political futures. Now it is long past time for the report to be tabled in Parliament by the prime minister.
“Whether the PLP wants it or not, this election is around the corner and the Bahamian people will finally have a say on their future,” said the Killarney MP.
Dr Minnis went on to urge Prime Minister Perry Christie to put forth a timeline for the upcoming election.
He added: “Once the commission’s report is tabled in Parliament, the embattled prime minister should immediately put forth a timeline for this election.
“For the Bahamian people it cannot come soon enough, they are tired of the PLP’s empty rhetoric and broken promises and have demanded the election be called now.
“Try as they may, this PLP government cannot stop the will of the Bahamian people. When the bell is rung it is the people who will decide their future, and the FNM trusts the people.”
He added that once the PLP is out of power, the people will finally have their time and the new FNM government will work every day to serve them.
The report was slated to be delivered to Governor General Dame Marguerite Pindling either Monday or yesterday morning. The document is expected to be tabled in Parliament this week.
Dr Minnis’ statement on the Constituencies Commission’s report comes one day after he, in a separate statement, blasted the Christie administration for ignoring the country’s unrelenting crime “epidemic”.
In that statement, released Monday evening by the party, Dr Minnis lamented that the inaction by the Christie administration has propelled the Bahamas to the region’s top spot for the “crime’s economic cost” index, according to a new Inter-American Development Bank report.
The Killarney MP said crime has cost the country $434m, roughly five per cent of the annual gross domestic product.
“This is a cost of over $1,000 per person each year,” stated Dr Minnis.
“With an already struggling economy we need immediate action to address this growing trend, or we will continue to realise the negative impacts of the crime epidemic.
“This PLP government can continue to try and ignore the problem all they want, but even foreign countries can see the depth of the crime problem.
“Several countries have previously issued travel advisories warning their citizens about the crime rate, and this negatively impacts our precious tourism economy.
“However, most Bahamians, with the exception of the PLP, feel the creeping encroachment of this crime epidemic in our streets and neighbourhoods. Bahamians cannot ignore it like this government does,” he added.
Dr Minnis said empty rhetoric, broken promises and more excuses by the PLP will not fix the problem.
“We must have a concrete plan to address crime in the Bahamas,” he said. “The FNM has a comprehensive plan to work together with law enforcement and our communities to rip it out at its roots.
“We will develop a strong plan that will properly train and equip our police; we will collaborate with church leaders and educators who know their communities, and we will bring them together with social workers and community leaders to address the problem.
“Our goal will always be to empower the people, not ignore them.
“We will work every day to make all our communities safe and secure for Bahamians because they deserve nothing less from their leaders.”
The country marked its 20th homicide for the year on Tuesday after a man was shot on Ida Street, off Balfour Avenue around 7.40am. He later died in hospital.
Six people have been murdered so far this month, following 14 homicides that were recorded in January, according to The Tribune’s records.