FNM leader Dr Hubert Minnis.
By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
FREE National Movement Leader Dr Hubert Minnis on Friday brushed off claims by former FNM Cabinet minister Phenton Neymour of an attempt to purge the party of those individuals who served under the previous Ingraham administration.
Dr Minnis, in an interview with The Tribune, said he will not be "sidetracked", and is more interested in "purging the Bahamas of (Prime Minister Perry Christie) and his PLP government".
Dr Minnis was responding to claims made by Mr Neymour on Thursday following the FNM's selection of Navarro Bowe as the party's candidate for Exuma, despite him reportedly receiving significantly fewer votes than Mr Neymour during a vote of the executive council in Exuma.
On Thursday, Mr Neymour, who served as Minister of State for the Environment and South Beach MP in the last Ingraham administration, said he was not surprised that Mr Bowe has been chosen to be the party's candidate for the Exuma constituency. He added that he figured the "writing was on the wall" given the small number of "Ingrahamites" who have been nominated candidates and/or executive committee members under Dr Minnis' leadership.
To validate his claims, Mr Neymour said that out of the current 32-member executive committee of the FNM, which selects the candidates, just five served under Mr Ingraham.
Additionally, only a few politicians who served in an Ingraham administration have been nominated by the FNM for the next election, such as former Education Minister Desmond Bannister and former Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Housing Brensil Rolle.
When asked to respond to the claims yesterday, Dr Minnis said: "At this particular time I am focusing on purging the Bahamas of Christie and his PLP, purging the Bahamas of victimisation, and bringing transparency, honesty and integrity back into this country. That's what I'm focused on. I'm not going to be sidetracked by anything."
"I see the finish line, and I'm running for the tape," he added.
According to party insiders, Dr Minnis received a signed petition by over 300 FNM voters last year stating that they wanted Mr Neymour to be their representative. The Tribune understands that three candidates, Mr Neymour, Mr Bowe and Joshua Sears were presented to the Exuma constituency association for the vote, with the understanding that whoever the association chose, Dr Minnis would ratify as the Exuma candidate.
Sources claimed that Mr Neymour received 67 per cent of the vote.