Turnquest warns demonstrators
National Security Minister Tommy Turnquest warned demonstrators ahead of today’s planned protest of the sale of 51 percent stake of the Bahamas Telecommunications Company(BTC), that law enforcement officers will be prepared for”any and everything.”
During the demonstration three weeks ago, hundreds of protestors fought with police on Bay Street. A series of clashes occurred as the demonstrators forcefully removed barricades the police had set up to block them from entering Parliament Square. This time police have secured the barricades together with chains and locks in anticipation.
“Let me be clear, while we will protect the right to lawful assembly and lawful protest, we will just as vigorously protect the rule of law and the professionals of the Royal Bahamas Police Force,”Turnquest said during the Free National Movement’s mass rally at Clifford Park on Saturday night.”Let me also be clear and let me say tonight that on Monday, or any other day, law enforcement officials will be prepared for anything that happens on Bay Street.”
Hundreds of protestors are expected to gather in Rawson Square as debate on the sale begins in Parliament today.The sale of a 51 percent stake of BTC to Cable and Wireless Communications(CWC)requires parliamentary approval.
At the end of debate, parliamentarians will vote on whether the sale should go forward.
Over the past several months the pending sale has created much controversy. The Progressive Liberal Party has already indicated publicly that it will not support the sale of BTC to CWC.
Ingraham said yesterday that he is not concerned that the deal will be rejected by FNM members.
“Senior PLPs watched as a crowd of PLP (supporters) sought to tear down police barriers. I can also tell you that known criminals were there. Instead of making the job of the police force difficult, the PLP has an obligation to assist the police. The demonstration down there a few weeks ago is a troubling sign of the measures and tactics it appears that the opposition is prepared to use in their hunger for power,”he said.
Two weeks ago Turnquest accused political operatives of bringing accused murderers and other violent offenders to the protest.
“There were persons out there known to the police for armed robbery, drug arrest, causing harm, possession of ammunition and firearms, assault with a deadly weapon, murder, possession of firearms, rape, armed robbery and shop-breaking, kidnapping, stealing and threats of death, house and shop-breaking, possession of dangerous drugs,”he said.
But the PLP has fiercely denied making such moves. The PLP has publicly sided with the unions protesting the sale.
While Ingraham seems sure that the FNM’s parliamentary caucus will support the sale, stiff opposition to the deal remains in other circles.
The unions representing BTC employees have protested the sale from the onset. They believe that Bahamians should own a majority stake in BTC.
Last month, the unions lost their bid to have the court block the sale of BTC.
The Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union(BCPOU)and the Bahamas Communications and Public Managers Union(BCPMU)were seeking an injunction to stop the government from selling BTC. However, Supreme Court Justice Neville Adderley said the unions lacked the legal capacity to institute and maintain the action in their own names.
The unions are appealing that decision.