DARREN Henfield with supporters at Central Primary School in this picture posted to his Facebook.
By TANYA SMITH-CARTWRIGHT
A MAJOR upset at the polls yesterday has left many Free National Movement Cabinet ministers without a seat in Parliament as The Bahamas ushers in a new Progressive Liberal Party government.
Although the full results were not known yesterday, only a handful of FNM members of Parliament retained their seats. The ministers of health, tourism, environment, foreign affairs, national security, disaster relief and education were all voted out of their various constituencies according to the unofficial results available up to press time.
Former Minister of Agriculture Michael Pintard was projected to retain his seat in Marco City while former Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Iram Lewis was projected to retain his seat in Central Grand Bahama. In East Grand Bahama, former Minister of State for Finance Kwasi Thompson was the projected winner while outgoing Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis also retained his Killarney seat.
The results are a far cry from the FNM’s landslide win in 2017 when it secured 35 seats in Parliament.
Shortly before 9pm yesterday, it was evident that the PLP would be the next government of The Bahamas. Around that time, former Minister of Foreign Affairs Darren Henfield conceded to Kirk Cornish as the new holder of the North Abaco seat in Parliament.
Abaco has expressed serious dissatisfaction with the Minnis administration over the handling of Hurricane Dorian and have sent a strong message by the rejection of Mr Henfield at the polls.
“It was an honour to serve,” Mr Henfield said. “Never in my life did I imagine serving my home in the House of Assembly and you all made that a reality. You have (given) me an opportunity to show why Abaco is the most resilient place on earth. You’ve shown me so much love and unwavering support. You all are still my family. I appreciate you. I thank you and I love you.
“Congratulations to the incoming member of Parliament Kirk Cornish. You’ve ran a fine race and today will be the start of your service to a great constituency. I make a commitment to do my endeavour best to assist you in any way possible. To all my family, friends and supports, this is not the end. There is still more work to be done and I will ensure that we still do it together, hand in hand, you and me.”
Despite coming under heavy attack from the PLP over contracts issued by the Water and Sewerage Corporation during his tenure as executive chairman, Adrian Gibson regained his seat in Long Island.
Speaking to The Tribune, he said, “I am super excited. I want to thank the people of Long Island for their support and for sticking with me. I commit to continue to fight hard in their interest and the matters that concern them and to redouble my efforts to fulfill my pledge to make and keep Long Island great while securing a brighter future for Long Island.”
The Tribune also spoke to former Minister of Immigration and Investments Elsworth Johnson, who lost his seat in Yamacraw. He said now is the time for the FNM to regroup.
“In The Bahamas I am grateful to God that we have a mature democracy that’s peaceful and that governments can have a regard to what is happening around the world,” Mr Johnson said. “I commend Mr Lightbourne on his victory and I thank God that I had an opportunity to serve. The FNM will regroup. Again I am grateful to God that I had the honour to serve the Bahamian people. On behalf of my friends and family, I would like to thank all the people who supported me. I am grateful for all the encouragement and prayers.”
Former Elizabeth MP Dr Duane Sands, who resigned as minister of health last year, also lost his seat in Parliament to the PLP’s Jobeth Coleby-Davis.
Incoming Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper said the PLP’s celebration will not be long as there is lots of work to be done.
“I am humbled and I am overjoyed by the support love shown to me by the people of Exuma and Ragged Island,” Mr Cooper said. “We’ve never stopped working. We kept on going after the last general elections. I believe that hard work has been rewarded and recognised by the people of Exuma and Ragged Island.
“I am thankful to my campaign team. They have all worked in a superb manner. I am thankful to my wife and family. I am looking forward to participating in the new government. I am very excited about shaping policy and working along with the new team to advance our country. We have great plans and now we will executive.
“The celebrations will be short lived given that we have a very serious crisis in our country. We will get to work swiftly on the many problems that confront the country including the economic and health crisis. Tomorrow is a new phase. We have successfully kicked Minnis out of office and now the hard work begins to reshape our country.”
Observers will watch the FNM to see what direction the now former governing party will take after yesterday’s loss.