By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
FORMER Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said Michael Pintard represents a new kind of leader for the Free National Movement, one who will be inclusive and not exclude party supporters.
Mr Ingraham has made no secret of his strained relationship with his successor, Dr Hubert Minnis, and has suggested in the past he was sidelined under Dr Minnis’ tenure.
Asked on Saturday if the FNM will now emerge unified after Mr Pintard’s victory, he said: “It’s going to take a little while for a few, but for the vast majority we’ll be united from today onwards, but for some others it will take a little while to massage them, but Michael is the man who will do that.
“He’s able to do that kind of stuff and he’ll be collegial, he’ll be inclusive, he will reach out and he will not be someone who excludes anybody or kicks anybody to the curb. “I think that FNMs will come to accept and like that this is a new kind of leadership that we have and we’ll embrace it and go forward with it.”
Mr Pintard won 67 percent of the votes on Saturday at the party’s leadership convention, beating East Grand Bahama MP Kwasi Thompson and Central Grand Bahama MP Iram Lewis.
He received 297 votes, while Mr Thompson and Mr Lewis got 120 and 44 votes respectively.
Dr Minnis, according to sources, backed Mr Thompson for leader. Mr Pintard and Dr Minnis have had a strained relationship, sources say, and the Killarney MP was absent during Mr Pintard’s victory speech and presentation on Saturday.
Asked if he felt slighted by this, Mr Pintard said: “Not at all. Listen, political contests are very difficult and I’m sure Dr Minnis has some legitimate reasons why he may not be here, but I expect that each time I pick up the phone to call my former leader, he is going to make himself available so that we can discuss the issues that affect the Bahamian people. I believe he loves the Bahamian people as much as any of us who are here right now so, no, I don’t feel slighted.”
Earlier on Saturday, Dr Minnis said he will remain an FNM supporter. He said he has an excellent relationship with the party.
“Whomever comes out I will support,” he said. “I’m an FNM, I’ve always been an FNM, I will remain an FNM. I think the FNM is the best government for this country and I will do all I can to ensure the FNM re-emerges even stronger, better and projects the country in the direction where it belongs.”
When asked to assess the strength of the three people nominated for leader, he said: “Everybody has strengths and weaknesses, everyone. They all have their strengths, they all have their weaknesses and I wish them all the best.”
Mr Ingraham, meanwhile, said he will give advice to Mr Pintard, but will not be pushy.
“The party needed a change and many of us worked hard behind the scenes to effect that change,” Mr Ingraham said.
“We think Michael will do well. We will give him all the support he needs and go with him throughout The Bahamas when he needs us to go, speak for him, but stay in the background, be advisors, not seek to guide him, not seek to lead him, just simply give him as much information and support as we can at any time. We will not be pushy. We’ll just be here, available, speed dial.
“As the longest serving leader of the Free National Movement in its 50-year history, having served for 19 years as leader of this party, having led this party to three victories as government of The Bahamas, I stand here today to say how pleased I am that the party has nominated, elected and ratified Michael Pintard as our next leader. I want you to know that he has my support, he can call up on me anytime, anywhere, any day. Go for it, Michael.”