PM vows efficiency in election process
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham would not confirm whether the general election will be called this year as has been speculated in some circles, however, he said that it”would be called on time.”
“Those who are speculating, that’s what they are doing, speculating,”the prime minister stressed on Wednesday, following a tour of the new Public Treasury building on East Street.
“When the[time comes]you’ll know. I’ll tell you. The one thing you know is that I won’t be late in calling it. It would not be that my minister of immigration would be in Marsh Harbour, Abaco, swearing in new citizens–Haitians–and they go next door to register to vote and the prime minister in Nassau is announcing that election has been called–meaning that what you did is ineffective because the register closes the day before election has been announced.”
Ingraham was referring to the allegations in the run-up to the 2007 general election that the Progressive Liberal Party granted some Haitians Bahamian citizenship just in time for the election–a claim that the PLP has denied.
Ingraham added that he would also cut the boundaries if necessary in enough time so that affected persons can acclimate themselves before the election is called.
“We will not be late,”he said.”The constitution calls for a review of boundaries every five years.”
During the last election some voters were disenfranchised because of confusion surrounding late boundary cuts.
“That can’t and won’t happen on our watch,”Ingraham said.
He said the government will seek to ensure equity in the number of voters in all boundaries in New Providence. As for the Family Islands, he said the Boundaries Commission will take into account the populations of the islands and the need for representation.
Some observers have also said the slow rate of registration could mean that the governing party is not getting as much support as it did during the run-up to the last election. However, Ingraham brushed those suggestions aside.
So far, fewer than 30,000 Bahamians have registered, according to Parliamentary Commissioner Errol Bethel.
Bethel toldThe Guardianyesterday that about 300 people registered every day since registration started.
Ingraham said he is not very concerned about the pace of registration.
“I’m satisfied that when the time is right we will have adequate numbers on the register,”he said.
Ingraham pointed out that The Bahamas is the only country in the region that requires people to register to vote every five years.
“People like to know that there is some deadline in which they are coming up against to spur them into what they could do without any pressure. At some point I will announce the day in which I will bring the current register to a close,”he said.
“When we announce the new register, there will be a major difference. So any suggestion to the contrary is not taking into account what the reality has been in the last 20 to 25 years.”