Dr. Hubert Minnis (left) and Michael Pintard (right).
~ FNM leadership blocks Minnis from addressing associations ~
NASSAU, The Bahamas--Tensions are mounting in the Free National Movement (FNM) as the leadership of the party is blocking former leader Dr. Hubert Minnis from speaking at FNM constituency association meetings.
There are widespread expectations that the former prime minister will challenge current leader Michael Pintard for the FNM leadership prior to the next general election. The Nassau Guardian understands that when the former prime minister attended an FNM Council meeting on Thursday, things got heated when Minnis voiced his objection to being prevented from addressing association meetings.
Minnis was set to speak at a meeting of the Garden Hills Constituency Association on March 7, but the leadership reportedly communicated to the association that that must not happen. Minnis was due to speak on the topic, “PLP policies hurting the average Bahamian”.
The Guardian understands that there was an intense exchange at the council meeting on Thursday over Minnis being prevented from addressing the upcoming association meeting. Pintard, who was a minister in Minnis’ Cabinet, reportedly warned FNMs that if Minnis leads them into the next election, the party would for sure lose to the Progressive Liberal Party.
The FNM’s leadership views the former leader as a liability to the party and has reportedly accused Minnis of already campaigning in party circles. It is Pintard’s view that Minnis has been working against what the party leadership is working to achieve and has been pushing a separate agenda, The Nassau Guardian understands. But Pintard declined to comment on the matter when reached on Sunday.
Minnis was unreachable. The former prime minister has had very limited involvement in the parliamentary caucus, has not been attending parliamentary meetings and rarely attends council meetings. He was not present a week ago when the vote took place on a resolution the opposition brought in the House of Assembly seeking the establishment of a parliamentary select committee to examine immigration matters.
Minnis, who called a general election eight months before one was constitutionally due, did not immediately step down as leader of the party after the September 2021 defeat. It was more than a month after the general election when Minnis finally announced that he will not seek re-election as leader at the party’s convention.
According to trusted party supporters, that announcement came after he was informed by powerful voices in the FNM that his bid for leadership would not be tolerated. But Minnis’ declaration in October 2022 that he would not challenge for leadership was not a declaration that he would never do so at any point prior to the next election.
After Pintard was elected leader in November 2021, Minnis congratulated him and pledged publicly to give his full support.
“I am certain that he will do well and he will have the support of all his parliamentarians, including myself, as we continue to move forward to replace that government on that side,” Minnis said at the time.
But in the year-plus since, there continues to be reports emanating from party circles that the two share icy relations and the former prime minister has been far from supportive of the new leader, who is often left to defend the Minnis administration’s record on the floor of the House of Assembly without any help from Minnis.
Last May, Pintard told The Nassau Guardian that Minnis was not being a team player. He said the former leader’s public posturing was unhelpful to party unity and the former leader was actually working against what the FNM is seeking to achieve as an official opposition.
“In terms of ongoing consultations, etc., I reach out to him as a member of the caucus in terms of periodically running things by him. The reverse does not happen,” Pintard said at the time.
Days later, influential individuals in the party met in an effort to ease the brewing tensions between Pintard and Minnis. Among those present were former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham and former FNM Leader Tommy Turnquest. But party insiders say relations between Minnis and the leadership have not improved since the meeting with the leadership council.
In recent times, Minnis supporters have been writing letters to the editor with increased frequency seeking to make a case for why he should return as leader, and why Pintard would lead the party to a sure defeat. There have been repeated response letters from individuals supportive of Pintard, creating an impression in the view of some that there is a brewing civil war within the FNM. The supporters from both sides have been using pseudonyms.
The last FNM convention was in February 2022. The party constitution mandates a convention every two years.
In 2021, the FNM won just seven seats in the House of Assembly with all but one incumbent, Adrian Gibson on Long Island, losing support when compared to 2017.
The next general election must be called by 2026. ~ The Nassau Guardian ~