Former Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis was evasive last night when asked whether he intends to run again for leader of the Free National Movement (FNM), when the party meets in convention on November 27 to deal with the leadership issue.
After the party’s council meeting at Holy Trinity Activities Centre, Minnis was asked about the outcome of the meeting and whether he intends to contest the leadership.
He responded, “I don’t discuss party business. At the appropriate time, y’all will know what’s happening.”
Speaking with reporters last night, FNM Chairman Carl Culmer had a notable shift in tone on the issue when compared to his interview with reporters after the party’s last council meeting two weeks ago.
After the September 22 meeting, Culmer told reporters that Minnis will stay on as leader of the party until a new leader is selected at the convention, adding that Minnis has pledged to work with whoever succeeds him to ensure the FNM is “battle-ready” for the next general election.
But when asked last night about reports that Minnis may enter the race, the chairman said, “None of those things were discussed tonight and at the end of the day, persons are free to nominate.”
Pressed on the possibility of Minnis running for leader once again, the FNM chairman said, “That’s left entirely up to the council. I don’t want to speculate. I do not believe in speculation. I believe at the end of the day, the process should take place and whatever the outcome is, we go from there.”
The November 27 convention will be the party’s first since 2016. It will take place just over two months after the FNM suffered a major defeat in the September 16 general election, which Minnis called eight months before an election was constitutionally due.
The FNM won just seven of the 39 seats in the House of Assembly: Killarney, St. Anne’s, St. Barnabas, East Grand Bahama, Central Grand Bahama, Marco City and Long Island.
Speaking last night, Culmer said, “We had a regular council meeting. At the end of the day, the last discussion was on convention. It was decided by the council that we will have a one-day convention for the leader that will be on November 27. We just will get the details at the end of the day.”
Culmer said some council members were concerned about how the party was going to go about holding the convention.
“At the end of the day, everything went well,” he said.
“We had a good meeting and the council decided we will have convention for the leader on November 27.”
Asked about the decision to separate the leadership race from other matters to be addressed in a convention, Culmer said, “Well, there are a number of things that need to be done. We need to have the constitution updated…”
While the decision to hold the convention next month was made at the FNM’s Central Council meeting in September, one council member said last night that there was an attempt to hold a convention at another time.
The Nassau Guardian understands that some members wanted to push the leadership convention to December.
A council member described the move as “controversial”.
Some FNM insiders have suggested that a later convention would likely benefit Minnis.
While the FNM will have its November leadership convention the party intends to have a full convention in February.
During a recent interview with Eyewitness News, Minnis, the Killarney MP, was asked whether he would accept or reject a nomination for leader of the party at convention if nominated on the convention floor.
Minnis replied, “I can’t answer that. I don’t know what the party [wants]. My interests right now is to be involved in building the Free National Movement, ensure that we are a machine that’s ready to take over and a machine with all the infrastructure, all the amenities to take The Bahamas to another level.”
He interrupted the interviewer when asked a second time about the convention.
“Allow me to repeat,” Minnis said.
“I’ve followed the Westminster system. In the Westminster system, it is the leader that takes full responsibility and the party deals with that.”
He said that “everything’s possible”, when asked about the matter again.
“When I make my decisions, once my conscience is clear and I ask my God for guidance, I am happy,” he said.