By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
AS HE called for former Prime Minister Perry Christie to resign as leader of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) last night, Alfred Sears said he saw the sweeping defeat coming after Fort Charlotte residents repeatedly told him they could not stand the leadership of the country any longer, despite their personal affection for him.
Mr Sears, who was projected to lose to the Free National Movement’s (FNM) Mark Humes according to unofficial results, said last night that it is “obvious” the party would have stood a better chance winning the election had he been victorious in the PLP’s leadership race in January, adding that “the party made a mistake” in choosing Mr Christie.
“The outcome of the convention did not inspire trust or confidence in the Bahamian electorate but that’s behind us now and I think the party has a wonderful opportunity to rebuild and reengineer itself,” he said.
When asked if he thought Mr Christie should resign as party leader, Mr Sears said: “Certainly. I think the party needs to be refreshed. I don’t see how the party can rebuild without new leadership.”
One of Mr Sears’ peers, former State Minister for Finance Michael Halkitis, told The Tribune last night that he is now finished with frontline politics and will not run again.
Mr Halkitis was the incumbent MP for Golden Isles. Last night it appeared that he - like the majority of his colleagues - lost his seat; however all of the poll results were not made available up to press time.
Mr Sears, however, said he saw the defeat coming.
“As I canvassed, the refrain that I met almost unbearably is that ‘we like you, we respect you and we feel you would be a good member of Parliament for this constituency and also we feel that you have a significant contribution to make on the national stage. But we cannot in good conscience continue with the leadership of our country for another five years under the PLP.’ That is what I met in so many of the homes in constituencies in Fort Charlotte, including registered members of the PLP.”
PLP Chairman Bradley Roberts was the first prominent official to concede defeat yesterday, adding the party will have to enter an era of rebuilding.
He said he was surprised by the results and that officials would have to review the matter to determine the way forward for the party.
His statement came at the PLP’s headquarters on Farrington Road.
By 9.30pm the building was nearly empty as the few PLPs who had gathered in hope of celebrating victory left as the results foreshadowed a staggering loss.
Some people were near tears as they sighed while watching the results.
“Perry cause this,” one elderly man said, while others dressed in PLP paraphernalia agreed.
“Today thousands peacefully exercised their democratic right to elect the government of their choice in free and fair general elections,” Mr Roberts said. “We congratulate them on their civility as the Bahamas cherished its international reputation as one of the oldest and most stable democracies.
“They spoke loud and clear and there is an adage that the voice of the people is the voice of God. We believe this and we humbly accept their verdict. We congratulate those that are victorious. And the PLP will have to go in a mode of rebuilding.
“We would have to review this matter obviously because this was unexpected; it caught me by complete surprise but, as I said, the voice of the people is the voice of God.”
Mr Christie did not speak to supporters or the media last night. However he released a statement conceding his loss and congratulated the country’s Prime Minister elect, Dr Hubert Minnis.