As increased security measures are put in place in Washington, DC, ahead of next week’s presidential inauguration, Bahamas Ambassador to the United States Sidney Collie said he is awaiting final briefing to determine whether he will attend.
Collie said Bahamian delegates working in Washington are briefed regularly by US federal authorities on safety precautions being put in place and closer to inauguration day.
“We are watching and monitoring activities in the capital,” Collie said. “We are being briefed regularly by federal authorities and the state department. As it stands now, we are not doing anything different from what we have been doing and the normal course of business.
I have been invited to the ceremony next Wednesday, and so I will decide whether I will attend or not, based on the information that is constantly being provided to us. As it stands now, the proceedings for next Wednesday are moving ahead. We have been assured that our safety and security is the top priority of the US government but we’re not leaving the capital.”
Last week, throngs of irate supporters of US President Donald Trump stormed past police officers and entered the US Capitol.
The event was deemed an “insurrection” by some US lawmakers, as well as Collie, and resulted in the deaths of five people.
Since then, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has warned of armed protests planned for next week in all 50 state capitals and in Washington, DC.
The FBI also said investigators are tracking threats to harm US President-Elect Joe Biden and other lawmakers ahead of inauguration day.
When asked about whether he feels safe, Collie said, “We are being briefed regularly by the federal authorities. As an ambassador and a senior diplomat of The Bahamas government in the United States, I am being provided with the necessary information that is needed to satisfy us that our personnel will be safe. If it ever turns out, based on information we are receiving, that our safety and security [are] at risk, we will be collaborating with our headquarters in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and together with their considered directions we will take whatever measures that are necessary.”
Collie said both of The Bahamas’ offices in the area have been closed since late-December, as ordered by DC Mayor Murial Bowser, as a precautionary measure against the spread of COVID-19.
However, those offices are scheduled to reopen the day before the inauguration.
“The call to return to work is actually on the 19th. But we suspect that will be suspended based on the activities that are going on now.
“The capital is calm. Based on what I’ve been told and what I’ve seen, it appears as if they have everything under control. But, there are rumors of armed persons attempting to storm the capital on the 20th. All of that, I am told, is being dealt with in the appropriate way. So, we have concerns now, but we’re not naïve. We are keeping our guards up.”