Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis will stay on as leader of the party until a new leader is selected at the FNM’s convention in November, Chairman Carl Culmer announced last night, adding that Minnis has pledged to work with whoever succeeds him to ensure the FNM is “battle-ready” for the next general election.
“We had a great meeting tonight,” Culmer told reporters following a three-hour-long Central Council meeting at Holy Trinity Activities Centre.
“A lot of supporters have expressed their concerns and at the end of the meeting, we agreed that the leader, the present leader, Dr. Hubert Minnis, will take the party into convention and, at the convention, we will select a new leader to take the party forward.”
He said Minnis will serve as leader of the opposition until the convention.
Culmer thanked Minnis for his contributions to the party.
“The future is bright for the FNM,” he said.
“We’re sorry tonight. The persons spoke with one voice. They supported the leader going into convention. … At the end of the day, we will choose a leader who will further build up the party.
“Dr. Minnis also pledged to work with that particular leader, whoever he might be, so that the FNM will be battle-ready for elections whenever it is called.”
The FNM suffered a spectacular defeat in the general election one week ago, winning just seven of the 39 seats in the House of Assembly with Minnis seeing a drop in support in Killarney from 73 percent in 2017 to 51 percent in 2021.
Minnis described last night’s meeting as “very interesting”.
He said he was able to thank his colleagues and the candidates who ran in the election.
“I thought they did an excellent job,” Minnis said.
“I thought the government, we did an excellent job in paving the way forward for the country and preparing for a better future. Unfortunately, the public felt different and we accept that.
“We will regroup and look at everything, analyze as to why individuals had not voted, what were the challenges and we would move forward and come out even better.”
The first FNM convention since 2016 will take place in November.
Loretta Butler-Turner, former deputy leader of the party, who had planned to challenge Minnis for leadership, and Dr. Duane Sands, who planned to challenge Peter Turnquest for deputy leader, dropped out of those races hours before voting started.
Last night, Sands, who served as minister of health in the Minnis administration, was asked whether he will run for leader.
“Well, you know, I haven’t made any final decisions,” said Sands, who lost his bid for re-election in Elizabeth.
“When that time is appropriate, then, perhaps, after consideration with my family and prayerful consideration, I will make a decision.”
Only three Cabinet ministers – Minnis in Killarney, Iram Lewis in Central Grand Bahama and Michael Pintard in Marco City – held onto their seats.
Former Minister of State for Finance Kwasi Thompson won the East Grand Bahama seat, which was previously held by Turnquest.
In addition to those seats that were won by the former ministers, the FNM also won St. Anne’s (Adrian White), St. Barnabas (Shanendon Cartwright) and Long Island (Adrian Gibson).
Last night’s council meeting was one of several high-level meetings held by the party this week to settle the issue of party leader.
Several individuals who ran on the FNM’s ticket in the most recent election spoke during the meeting.
Among them was Travis Robinson, who served as parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation, and lost his bid for re-election in Bains and Grants Town.
“The reality is the people felt like the FNM and our leadership, the prime minister, was not in tune with the Bahamian people,” Robinson said.
“They felt like he said things that he should not have said, did things that he should not have done.”
Robinson said the party is not questioning the work or the integrity of Minnis.
Jennifer Isaacs-Dotson, who served in the Senate and ran as the FNM’s candidate for Exumas and Ragged Island, told council members they “need to make things better for us in the next five years”.
“Stop … your crying, ‘Oh, we should have. Oh, we could have. Oh no, we didn’t have,’” she said.
“It don’t matter. We here. We here now. What we do after we leave here tonight will determine where we go in the next five years.”
While noting that “what is done is done”, she said it does not make sense to point fingers following the loss at the polls.