Days after Attorney General Carl Bethel called the Progressive Liberal Party’s (PLP) boycott of Parliament “unacceptable”, PLP Chairman Fred Mitchell said Bethel has no say in what the party does and that it will continue with its boycott of Parliament until “the point is made”.
Mitchell said the PLP is boycotting Parliament over the “judicial condemnation” of two Cabinet ministers in the Frank Smith extortion and bribery trial.
Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands and Minister of National Security Marvin Dames were called to testify during the trial. In her ruling, Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt was critical of Sands’ and Dames’ conduct in relation to the case. The PLP has called on the men to either resign or be fired.
In a statement yesterday, Mitchell said, “The PLP makes this gesture of defiance to say that there cannot be business as usual.
“The attorney general has no say in what the PLP does or does not do.”
He added, “When it is judged in the best interests of the country and the point is sufficiently made, our leader will lead his colleagues back into Parliament and not before.”
PLP senators withdrew from the Senate last Thursday after PLP Leader Philip Brave Davis announced that the party will boycott the House of Assembly.
At the time, Mitchell said the boycott was in protest of the “persecution” of PLP supporters by the government.
Last Wednesday, former Urban Renewal Deputy Director Michelle Reckley and five others were charged with various fraud-related offenses.
That same day, Davis accused the government of abusing its power and noted that, not only could he support his claims, but he could also prove why two Cabinet ministers who testified in the Smith trial should resign.
On Friday, Bethel said the PLP was using the boycott “as some point of leverage to forestall or intimidate the government and to intimidate, particularly the prosecution services of this country”.
“We, you know, not so long ago passed an amendment to the constitution which created the independent, constitutional and constitutionally protected Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions precisely to remove the stigma of political interference from public prosecutions,” Bethel said in the Senate.
“If I, as attorney general, wished to give an order to the director under the constitution, it must be defensible in law, clear, transparent in writing and gazetted. And, so, all I have to say is I trust that the Bahamian people can see politics being played when politics is being played. Let justice be done though the heavens fall.”
But Mitchell said, “The attorney general in his statement about the PLP’s boycott of Parliament seeks to confuse the issue of why the boycott is taking place.
“There is one simple matter to consider. Two ministers of the government, the minister of health, Dr. Duane Sands, and the minister of national security, [Marvin Dames], are judicially condemned for their conduct while in office.”
Mitchell continued, “The appeal, no matter its outcome, will not change the judicial judgment upon them.
“They ought to, in the face of this finding of an abuse of the administration of justice, resign or be dismissed.”
Education: Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish