By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Deputy Chief Reporter
DESPITE controversy surrounding the nomination of the Progressive Liberal Party’s Free Town candidate, Chairman Bradley Roberts yesterday said at all times the party’s internal electoral process was “free,” “fair” and “democratic”.
At all times compliant with the provisions of the PLP’s constitution, Mr Roberts said this was proof that the governing party remained the most united and stable political organisation in The Bahamas with one undisputed leader – Prime Minister Perry Christie.
However, the issue of unity in the PLP is arguable with continuous rumblings that there was a great divide behind the scenes over whether attorney Wayne Munroe, QC, or Senator Frank Smith should be the party’s pick for Free Town.
While the party ultimately chose Mr Munroe on Monday night, it was widely publicised that the matter was contentious as supporters of both men faced off at party events and led to the PLP’s Montagu Branch writing to Mr Christie asking for a meeting the National General Council (NGC) in a last ditch effort to have Senator Smith ratified.
“With the overwhelming support of the National General Council for noted attorney Wayne Munroe, QC, at its special call meeting on Monday evening, the candidate’s ratification process came to an exciting end with the election of Mr Munroe as the party’s candidate in the newly named Free Town constituency, Mr Roberts said. “The party continues its preparation for the 2017 general election where it fully expects to be returned to office.
“By all accounts, the internal electoral process was free, fair, transparent, robust and democratic – at all times compliant with the provisions of our party’s constitution. The PLP remains the most united and stable political organisation in The Bahamas with one undisputed leader, Perry G Christie, who enjoys the full support of his parliamentary caucus, party delegates and the National General Council.”
Former PLP member of Parliament Philip Galanis, told The Tribune yesterday that while he was a keen supporter of Mr Smith, he agreed that the process was democratic.
“I think it was a democratic process as the candidate was ultimately determined by the NGC. It was an overwhelming decision and it was determined that Mr Munroe would be the standard bearer,” Mr Galanis said when he was contacted yesterday.
“There are some people who object and some people who say he doesn’t have the kind of political pedigree that Senator Smith has and that is a legitimate claim. I was one of those who fully supported his nomination. I felt he has more political pedigree than Mr Munroe,” Mr Galanis said.
“But in politics you win some you lose some. At the end of the day what you have was the consensus of the council. There was no split and no division as a result of what transpired.
“We came together and supported the nominee who came through the process.”
He continued: “It says to Bahamians that the PLP clearly is not divided but unified and not letting disputes to tear the organisation apart.
“This shows that the PLP is the best choice.”
Now that the Free Town nomination is behind the party, Mr Roberts said the PLP looks forward to sharing its “big plans” for the future of the country. These plans, he said, bring big progressive changes for the betterment of Bahamians.
“We cannot turn back the clock on our achievements and solid foundation by introducing regressive and backward policies such as same-sex schooling, placing metal detectors in public schools and seizing private property to give to friends as part of some smoke filled back room sick deal; this would destroy our international reputation, disrupt our economy and turn the lives of literally hundreds of entrepreneurs and thousands of Bahamian families upside down.
“Dr Minnis and his divided FNM represent a dangerous risk the Bahamian people will and must not take. The PLP pledges to the Bahamian people to move this country forward together,” Mr Roberts said.
Before party members displayed a show of unity on Monday night, there was confusion on how the night would end.
Supporters of Mr Munroe came out in large numbers to support their preferred candidate. At one point, they formed a barrier to the entrance of the PLP headquarters in an attempt to block Mr Smith’s smaller group of supporters from entering the building, although no confrontation took place.
Not long after, Mr Roberts, issued a statement to the press announcing that the ratification would not take place as expected because of a letter the PLP’s Montagu branch wrote to Mr Christie in a final attempt to give the nomination to Mr Smith.
In the speech that was sent to the media, Mr Roberts said a 10-member committee would be set up to “amicably resolve the matter and report to the leader its findings.”
The speech also said that he expected this committee to meet by next week Wednesday, and submit a report thereafter, and then the party’s ratification process would conclude.
In a subsequent emailed statement to the media about two hours later, Mr Roberts said: “Further update. NGC rather than any further delays overwhelmingly voted to endorse Wayne Munroe to carry the PLP banner in Free Town.”