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READY TO RUN, DOC? Parliament prorogued - reconvenes September 22, PLP attacks Minnis for ‘playing games’

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.

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Commissioner of Police Paul Rolle speaks outside Parliament on Thursday. Photo: Donavan McIntosh/Tribune staff

THURSDAY MORNING UPDATE: Commissioner of Police Paul Rolle, in his capacity as Provost Marshall, read a proclamation from Governor General CA Smith this morning dissolving Parliament. The next session of Parliament will be on October 6.

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Senior Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

ACTING on the advice of Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis, Governor General Sir C A Smith may dissolve Parliament as early as today in preparation for an early election, sources said yesterday.

This comes after Police Commissioner Paul Rolle announced at the House of Assembly yesterday that the Governor General has prorogued Parliament until September 22, 2021.

The Tribune understands that before Parliament reconvenes on September 22, a general election is planned. An announcement of Parliament’s dissolution could come today, the anniversary of the Free National Movement’s first general election victory in 1992. While only Dr Minnis knows for certain when Parliament will be dissolved and when an election will be held, insiders nonetheless anticipate an election date of around September 16.

Speculation about an early election has been rampant this term. Some FNMs expected Dr Minnis to announce the election last month but believe a surge in COVID-19 cases disrupted his plans.

Multiple FNM rallies that were planned for dates in July and August were put on hold. One source yesterday said the party is ready to go: its posters, T-shirts, masks and other paraphernalia are in the country.

The FNM’s internal polls are a factor driving Dr Minnis’ move to possibly call an early election.

Given the COVID-19 situation, traditional rallies are unlikely; it is unclear how rallies will take place, though an option for drive-in events is on the table.

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Commissioner of Police Paul Rolle reads the proclamation on Wednesday morning. Photo: Donavan McIntosh/Tribune staff

Many braced for an announcement that Parliament would be dissolved yesterday after police informed the media at 8.37am that Commissioner Rolle, acting in his role as Provost Marshal, would read a proclamation from the Governor General.

Standing in front of the House of Assembly around 9.30am, Commissioner Rolle announced that Parliament would simply be prorogued. This signified the end of the parliamentary session. When Parliament is dissolved, meanwhile, a general election must be held within 90 days, according to the Constitution.

Commissioner Rolle returned to Parliament at 2pm to read another proclamation announcing the date when Parliament is scheduled to reconvene.

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House Speaker Halson Moultrie.

The two separate announcements confused many observers. Sources in the government and the FNM claimed the commissioner had failed to read all of the Governor General’s proclamations the first time around and had to return to Parliament to complete the exercise.

However, Commissioner Rolle told this newspaper yesterday: “One is the prorogation and the second is the date of return. There is no mix up. They are different and it really doesn’t matter when they are read as long (as they are read) before the date.”

The prorogation of Parliament came as House Speaker Halson Moultrie held his first “open Parliament” session in Parliament Square. Speaker Moultrie has said his events, which are scheduled for every Wednesday, are a chance for Bahamians to learn about the legislative branch of government and to deepen democracy in the country.

His event yesterday mostly attracted supporters of third parties. There was minimal social distancing and the rowdiness of the crowd created a dynamic scene as Commissioner Rolle read proclamations and police officers swarmed the area.

After the commissioner left Parliament the first time, several senior officers visited Speaker Moultrie inside the House of Assembly.

Speaker Moultrie later denied rumours that they wanted him gone from the premises and were prepared to forcibly remove him from the House.

“There was no indication from the police of an intent to move the Speaker from Parliament,” he told reporters. “There was some indication from the police that they were advised that because the House was prorogued the Speaker no longer has jurisdiction over Parliament Square. I told the police that is nowhere in law, nowhere in the rules and nowhere in the Constitution. The police returned and they were unable to convince me or themselves that such a position exists. The Speaker is the principal political officer of the legislative branch of government and the Speaker’s power continues until the Parliament dissolves.”

In a statement yesterday, PLP Leader Philip “Brave” Davis accused Dr Minnis of “playing games while the country burns” and avoiding tough questions.

“So if you want to know why this government suspended this Parliament, the answer is simple: because they don’t have a choice,” Mr Davis said.

“As the head of the Public Accounts Committee, I have asked the government to provide to the public the details of that hidden pandemic spending. They have been using Emergency Orders to hide these secrets. The food assistance contract – how much went to food for the people, and how much went to wealthy FNM donors?

“This government cannot afford to have an independent Speaker of the House who is willing to require that they comply with the law and answer questions like that one. That is why they do not want Parliament back in session.

“But the country cannot afford any more chaos and dysfunction and uncertainty. The government is playing games while the country burns. Stop playing games, man. Things are falling apart. People are hurting.

“Ring the bell – it’s the first step to better days,” Mr Davis said.

Comments

Proguing 2 years, 6 months ago

Last year when we had lower Covid infection cases than today we were forbidden to leave our home and now we are going to have an election?

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thephoenix562 2 years, 6 months ago

Who said we are forbidden to leave our homes?

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Proguing 2 years, 6 months ago

During the lockdowns, do you remember or is that already all forgotten?

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tribanon 2 years, 6 months ago

You poor soul. COVID-19 must have eaten your memory.

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happyfly 2 years, 6 months ago

Don't worry. Papa Doc will find a way to lock down the PLP supporters the day before the elections

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Bigrocks 2 years, 6 months ago

Greed, power grab and possibly corruption at work

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WETHEPEOPLE 2 years, 6 months ago

If any Bahamian dont see or understand what Minnis is doing, they are completely lost. The PM is playing political games the which i have never seen in the Bahamas. Somewhere along the years this man has become power driven and even more corrupt than any PM before him. If he will go to these lengths to hang onto power, that should tell the people about his character as a man. This man has to be voted out! I really dont care if a fisherman runs this country, his shyt would smell better than what Minnis is cooking. Bahamians take charge of your future. Its not about FNM or PLP, its about Minnis thinking that he is almighty, and that the Bahamian people are stupid and blind.

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tribanon 2 years, 6 months ago

Amen brother, no one could have said it better.

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Topdude 2 years, 6 months ago

Shut up your trap dummy. Do not mistake competence for arrogance. And do not mistake insightfulness for incompetence.

We have in this Prime Minister someone who is loaned to us for awhile. Please let us make the best use of his presence to move our nation further along the road to prosperity and development.

While it is no secret that some PLP leaders are usually prone to having their pants down, the timing of the election was a masterful stroke. And it caught them completely discombobulated. Where is their financier? I am speaking of the man Nygard who is currently under indictment for child abuse. The man who boasts that he runs the PLP.

Let us rally around the FNM. And onward to victory.

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Bobsyeruncle 2 years, 6 months ago

Trib, you're being too polite to that Minnis boot licker. You feeling alright today?

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carltonr61 2 years, 6 months ago

Bring the PLP taliban back in power.

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tribanon 2 years, 6 months ago

Any government will be better than the Minnis led FNM Al-Qaeda. That's a given!

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whogothere 2 years, 6 months ago

Plp/fnm - Can anyone remind me what the other options are? These two are not doing it for me...

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Proguing 2 years, 6 months ago

The other option is to head for the airport like in Kabul...

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TalRussell 2 years, 6 months ago

Yep, Kabul airport is starting to have an air of democratic appeal. — Unlike the Reds, whose first order of governance business was to arrest and jail members of the former governing party — and quickly went about to free the OPM of all-female gender Red MPs —, the Taliban says it's offering, compassion, amnesty to former members of government, promises of women’s rights, and media freedom — so, why not buy into 2021, newly minted lies of the full slate 39 contesting Reds, — You just shouldn't be making this crazy shi#, up,— yes?

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ohdrap4 2 years, 6 months ago

@topdude

We have in this Prime Minister someone who is loaned to us for awhile.

The shylock will come after us. Will cost us an arm and a leg. Perhaps a tongue.

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