Categorized | National News

FNM Chairman Denies Rift

By: K Quincy Parker

FNM Chairman Charles Maynard on Monday denied that there is a split in the leadership of the Free National Movement (FNM) and rebuffed suggestions that opposing views by FNM Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis and former Labour Minister Dion Foulkes expose a rift in the party.

During a recent news conference at which he announced the FNM’s intention to try to bring a class action lawsuit against the government over claims of mass victimisation, Dr. Minnis admitted that while the FNM “may have” been guilty of victimisation, the PLP had carried the practice to extremes.

On Sunday, however, Mr. Foulkes issued a press release flatly denying that the FNM was guilty of victimisation.

The Journal reached both Dr. Minnis and Mr. Maynard in Abaco, where they are campaigning for the upcoming bye-election to replace former FNM Leader Hubert Ingraham as North Abaco MP.

While Dr. Minnis chose not to comment, Mr. Maynard sought to explain the contradiction.

“In his capacity as the former minister of labour, Foulkes simply tried to clarify the point that as a government, it was never our policy to victimise people. As a minister, he never did. I can say the same thing, and Dr. Minnis could say the same thing: that as ministers, we never tried to handpick people to disenfranchise them from their job or any other opportunities,” he said.

“Mr. Foulkes was simply trying to make that clarification. He was not trying to contradict the leader. He was just stating his point of view that in our Cabinet, that was not something that we did.”

The party chairman also addressed the question of whether the contradictory statements by Dr. Minnis and Mr. Foulkes do in fact reveal a split within the party leadership.

He said it did not.

“We are all on the same page. We have freedom of speech in the FNM, and our members are free to speak and defend the record of the party,” he said.

“So all you saw in the statement from Mr. Foulkes was that from where he sat as a member of Ingraham’s Cabinet in two terms in governance, that neither he nor any of his colleagues had participated in victimisation.”

In the aftermath of Dr. Minnis’ election as leader of the FNM, Mr. Maynard said the new leadership team had up to a year-and-a-half to prove itself.

Asked on Monday directly how he would rate Dr. Minnis’ performance as leader so far, Mr. Maynard said, “I would give him an ‘A+’ because it’s very difficult after coming off a defeat as we have done, to get the party machinery going and ready and up and running for a bye-election, which we are endeavouring to do. It’s very difficult to reorganise, reenergise all of our various arms of the party throughout the country. I think he’s doing a tremendous job of solidifying himself as leader and strengthening the FNM for the hard work ahead.”

Party Perspective

Despite the appearance of a breach in the party, the Journal understands that Dr. Minnis is considered “the undisputed leader” and that he has the party’s support.

“The issue is a sensitive one,” one party insider said, “and all those who were a part of the Cabinet would feel wounded.”

 A high-ranking party source put it this way, “We don’t expect Dr. Minnis to be a ‘Hubert Ingraham.’ That was a leader of a different generation and even Mr. Ingraham often remarked that he was preparing the FNM for new leadership. It did not happen as he would have wished, but he always made it clear that when the people want him to go he would ‘pack up his Georgie bundle and be gone,’ and he has done so.”

Another senior FNM also waded into the leadership question.

“Also it is very important that we remember, and we do remember, that several members of Mr. Ingraham’s cabinet had an opportunity to lead our party, and were not successful according to the standard test applied to leadership of political parties. They should not be tempted to think that they are acceptable to the Bahamian people outside of party allegiances. The party values their experience and sees them as a valuable part of the team under new leadership which will form the next government.”

“Right now we need to direct all our resources towards supporting Dr. Minnis,” the FNM said, “and defending the interest of the Bahamian people and the party. We have had our retreat. We have accepted that the Bahamian people spoke on May 7 and we know with certainty that they will speak again, so let’s ready ourselves for that eventuality.”

Party supporters tell the Journal that Dr. Minnis was ‘brave’ to speak as he did about the possibility of victimisation under the FNM, and that it seemed “silly” and “reactionary” for Mr. Foulkes to flatly deny that the FNM had ever victimised anyone.

“Yes, because there will always be someone out there who can disprove your assertion, and it may not necessarily be victimisation in the pure sense, but it really does not matter.”

Written by Jones Bahamas

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