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Parties consider conventions ahead of election

Representatives from the major political parties said they plan to hold national conventions early next year, on the cusp of the 2012 general election.

Free National Movement Chairman Carl Bethel said the party’s executive members could select the exact date of the convention with only a week or two weeks’ notice.

“We passed a resolution to give the (FNM’s) central council the right to determine a date at short notice.  We only need to hear from the executive of the party to say ‘go’,” Bethel said.

“It will be determined by the political directorate of the party.  It won’t be before the end of this year but after that is anybody’s bet,” Bethel added.

He said he expects the other two parties to schedule their conventions after the FNM.

“Other parties will take their lead from the governing party of The Bahamas,” Bethel said.

“The PLP had an infallible tradition that they held a convention every year no later than the first week of November from the time they were formed until [Opposition Leader] Perry Christie [took over].

“The PLP held to that tradition but Mr. Christie is more [inclined] to gauge what his party does by the FNM than to adhere to the principles of his party’s tradition.

The last time the PLP or the FNM held a convention was in 2009.

In September 2010, the FNM announced that it would postpone a convention until this year due to the country’s financial challenges.

According to the party’s constitution a national convention must be held at least every two years.

Bethel, the MP for Sea Breeze, added that it is highly unlikely that any members of the FNM will mount a leadership challenge against Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham.

He said the party is united in its mission to win the next election and any challenge would fracture the party.

“I do not see any such thing happening.  The Free National Movement is now beefing up its defenses; we are not about to engage in divisive acts,” Bethel said.

“Leadership issues can be divisive.  The vast majority of the party – the officers, the executives members and our parliamentary team – is satisfied with the leader that we have, very satisfied”.

Bethel added: “I hear no rumblings in the wind.  People on a whim might want to make some point but the party is unified behind our present leader, Hubert Ingraham.  There is no rumbling of discontent that would feed any realistic challenge”.

PLP Chairman Bradley Roberts said the PLP is still mulling over plans for a convention.

However, he added that it was his understanding that the PLP would schedule a convention after the FNM, in early 2012.

“We will review the position depending on matters going forward,” he said.

When asked if the party is financially prepared to incur the costs of a major event, when that money could be funneled into a hotly contested election campaign, Roberts said: “We are prepared. The Lord always makes a way somewhere, we never start out with money in the bank, ours is a very poor party”.

Conventions can cost as much as $300,000, The Nassau Guardian was told.

DNA leader Branville McCartney added that his party plans to hold a convention as well, but on a much smaller scale than the two political juggernauts.

“We plan on having something before the election.  We haven’t confirmed the date as yet; we’re going to do it on our time,” he said.

McCartney added: “We are set for a convention but it’s certainly not going to cost us that kind of money (hundreds of thousands of dollars).”

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