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FNM Gets Backlash–Cash Says Party Has No Regrets

The Free National Movement (FNM) is facing fierce backlash over its decision to reveal the details of a report that the party says proves Cuban detainees were beaten by defence force officers. Many Bahamians sounded off yesterday, charging that the official Opposition was irresponsible, out of order, disloyal and a disgrace.

On Wednesday, the FNM Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis called a news conference where he charged that Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell has been engaged in a cover-up – one that has the potential to damage The Bahamas’ relationship with its friend and ally, the United States.

During the news conference he claimed the abuse of the detainees was so severe that three of them had to be taken to the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) for treatment.

“Following the beatings, the remaining detainees performed and videotaped a re-enactment of the earlier beatings,” Dr. Minnis reported.

“Our information is that the re-enactment was facilitated with the assistance of one or more defence force officers, who provide the fatigues for the actors in the performance.”

But, on Thursday, a steady stream of irate callers phoned into Love 97’s daily talk show, “Issues of The Day,” many of whom accused the party of seeking to “embarrass” the country.

“I thought this whole thing about what the Opposition said was very irresponsible because the minister said this whole matter was under investigation, so how could one come to a conclusion….If you are aspiring to become the government, I think you have done almost irreparable damage to your own party. The Bahamian people should be outraged about this whole situation,” the first caller said.

“I cannot understand how the leader of the opposition and the chairman could really go on record saying there was a cover-up. It cannot just be about becoming the prime minister of The Bahamas or getting political brownie points. You should be nationalistic if you intend to become the next prime minister of this country. As long as this kind of thing continues, the Opposition, under Dr. Minnis, will be in the political wilderness for a very long time. If he continues, he will never be prime minister of this country.”

Another caller added: “The chairman of the FNM and his leader are so desperate for political traction that they would align themselves with any forces that would try to bring harm to the government. You don’t get power that way.”

Many of the callers also charged that Dr. Minnis was “out of order.”

“He is a disloyal man. I would also say that a lot of things that I have been seeing the Opposition doing certainly does not constitute for a good Opposition,” one caller said.

Despite the backlash FNM Chairman Darron Cash told The Journal his party does not regret releasing the information to the public. In fact, he denied that there has been a backlash.

“The fact is the leader of the Opposition made known something to the country that the government of the day chooses not to let the people know. The fact is, releasing the information does embarrass the Christie administration to some degree, but this is about what type of standards do you want to set for this country and how we operate and what kind of level of intelligence do we want to attribute to the Bahamian people,” he told The Bahama Journal yesterday.

“The FNM believes people are intelligent enough that you can tell them the truth that if something untoward happens in one of the agencies the Bahamian people, not the American community, not the Cuban-American community, not the Cuban community, but the Bahamian people are entitled to know and the government ought to give them enough credit to accept factual information. So, we have no regrets in releasing the information.”

On Wednesday, Minister Mitchell, who vehemently denied the allegations, called the FNM an “unpatriotic, unBahamian” group.

But, Mr. Cash suggested that the minister is merely deflecting.

“The fact is the minister of foreign affairs has chosen to attack us personally. Now, his behaviour is reprehensible, but we will deal with that at another time. Look at the minister of foreign affairs’ response. He cannot attack the merits of the argument, so he goes to the old approach of attacking the messenger,” Mr. Cash said.

“We’ve asked him to step down; we don’t expect that he will do that and we will wait to see whether the prime minister responds. But, there is sufficient information that he has knowledge of that and he ought to release it to the Bahamian people. We are entitled to know exactly what happened, so the ball is in the court of the Government of The Bahamas to attribute some degree of intelligence and maturity to their people that they can handle the truth; they are entitled to the truth and Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Christie ought to give them the truth.”

Minister Mitchell has already assured there is an investigation into the allegations made at the Detention Centre.

The minister explained that this will mean a review by a retired justice of the Court of Appeal (COA) and a leading cleric.

“Those are my instructions. That has been my consistent public statement…Until the time of the completion of the investigation, the FNM can spin what spurious lines it wishes, the facts are stubborn on this matter,” he said in a press release issued on Wednesday.

“When the investigations are complete, the government will act and the chips will fall where they may.”

Written by Jones Bahamas

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