Former Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
FORMER Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis told Free National Movement executive board members yesterday evening that he will not vie for leader at the party’s next convention but wants to lead the FNM into the House of Assembly until a new leader is chosen, according to three sources with intimate knowledge of the meeting.
Dr Minnis also reportedly told executive board members that he will hold on to his Killarney seat and has no intention of resigning from Parliament.
The Tribune understands that yesterday’s gathering at the party’s headquarters came a day after a majority of the FNM’s incoming parliamentary caucus voted for Dr Minnis to enter Parliament as leader of the official opposition. For at least some of the caucus members, their vote came with the expectation that he will not remain leader of the official opposition indefinitely.
Dr Minnis agreed to ensure that his appointments to the Senate come after consultation with the MPs-elect, sources said.
During last night’s meeting, Marco City MP-elect Michael Pintard, the current frontrunner to succeed Dr Minnis as leader of the FNM, reportedly pushed back against Dr Minnis’ offer to remain FNM leader until the convention. Sources said he believes Dr Minnis should resign prior to that event.
Although a pitch was subsequently made for FNM Deputy Leader Peter Turnquest to serve as interim leader of the party until the convention, the executive board, in a secret ballot vote, voted 17-12 for Dr Minnis to remain leader of the party until the convention, according to this newspaper’s sources.
The executive board did not recommend a definitive timeline for the next FNM convention, though it is anticipated the party will hold the event within two to three months.
The executive board vote likely reflects a divide in the party about the short-term future of the FNM. On one hand, some want to ensure that Dr Minnis is treated with dignity and respect and is allowed to enter Parliament and the convention as leader while playing an instrumental role in the transition of the party. On the other hand, there is fear among some that Dr Minnis might just be biding his time and will turn around and contest the leadership position at the convention despite his current stance.
Ultimately, the FNM’s council will decide during a meeting at Holy Trinity Anglican Church today whether it will approve the executive board’s recommendation or not. The meeting is expected to feature as many as 300 council members.
Insiders believe the meeting could be a heated one. Yesterday’s executive meeting was not contentious, however, though frank views were said to be expressed about what led to the party’s worst electoral defeat in 44 years. The FNM won seven seats in the House of Assembly versus the Progressive Liberal Party’s 32 seats.
After the meeting, Dr Minnis did not discuss what happened during the election.
“It’s all being discussed at the party level,” he said, adding that meetings are ongoing.
In addition to Mr Pintard, the favourites to succeed Dr Minnis as leader are East Grand Bahama MP-elect Kwasi Thompson and St Barnabas MP-elect Shandendon Cartwright. Former Elizabeth MP Dr Duane Sands is also considered a possible contender and there are some in the party who hope he is appointed to the Senate.
In recent days, the jockeying for support has reportedly been intense in the FNM. Sources said some supporters of Dr Minnis have called council members requesting their support for him to remain leader while opponents of Dr Minnis have called around requesting support to oust him as leader. Sources said it is unclear which side has the majority support.