After reading about the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse in the early hours of July 7 by alleged foreign mercenaries, I don’t think any Bahamian can take for granted the political stability this country has enjoyed since independence and majority rule.
Truth be told, there has been a noticeable rise in political hatred between rabid supporters of both the Free National Movement (FNM) and the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), especially with the constant calls by opposition forces for Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis to end the emergency order restrictions and to set an election date.
At the grassroots level, fanatical FNMs and PLPs are always on Facebook arguing over the policies of their respective parties, with a few uttering libelous and defamatory statements, with the aim of bolstering their political organizations’ chances at winning in the upcoming general election.
These rabid politicos are prepared to commit character assassination of their political rivals in order to achieve their political objectives, even if it means being hauled before the courts.
While some may dismiss my concerns about this current atmosphere of heightened political tensions as being overblown, we must bear in mind that Bahamian politics, in the post-United Bahamian Party era, has already been marred by violence.
One classic case in point was the physical assault of FNM founders Sir Cecil Wallace-Whitfield and Maurice Moore at a political event at the Lewis Yard Primary School auditorium in November 1970, about one month after Sir Cecil and Dr. Curtis McMillan resigned their Cabinet posts in the nascent Sir Lynden Pindling administration.
The “10” assailants were obviously opposed to the Dissident Eight and the Free-PLP, viewing the PLP rebels as political traitors. Fifty-one years later, minor similarities between the political situation in The Bahamas and Haiti exists.
Earlier this year, Port-au-Prince had been inundated with violent gangs, especially in the communities of Martissant, Fontamara and Delmas, amid calls by opposition leaders for Moïse to step down, claiming that his term had ended in February 2021. The Moïse camp countered by arguing that since he was installed as president in February 2017, his term legally ends in February 2022.
As a wealthy former banana exporter and political newcomer in Michel Martelly’s Tèt Kale (Bald Headed Party), who was backed by the wealthy and middle class denizens of Pétionville, Moïse won 55.67 percent of the electoral votes in the November 2016 presidential elections, which was held 13 months after the flawed October 2015 elections.
The runner-up was a mechanical engineer named Jude Celestin, who gained 19.52 percent of the votes.
SenatorJean-Charles Moïse got 11 percent and former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas’ standard bearer Maryse Narcisse gained just nine percent, much to the chagrin of Haitians in the Fanmi Lavalas stronghold of La Saline.
Aristide supporters are conveniently overlooking the fact that online news sites, such as Celebrity Net Worth, are claiming that Aristide is worth $800 million.
According to Divya Kishore of MEA Worldview, Moïse’s net worth was rumored to be just $4 million. Based on this, it is difficult to understand why La Saline residents were engaging in a clash warfare with the late Moïse.
Based on what I’ve been reading, Haiti’s Parliament is “effectively defunct,” with no recent elections at the national and local levels under the tumultuous reign of Moïse, who ruled by decree for two years.
Consequently, succession will now be a complex issue for Haitian political stakeholders to sort out.
Sixty percent of Haitians now live in abject poverty and COVID-19 infections have reached 19,000, with 462 causalities.
Despite coming to office seven years after the devastating 2010 earthquake that killed over 200,000 and displaced five million, lower-income Haitians seemed to have blamed the wealthy Moïse for their plight, which has characterized Haiti since its independence in 1804.
The highlight of Moïse’s tenure appears to be his invitation, along with Dr. Minnis, Danilo Medina (Dominican Republic), Allen Chastanet (St. Lucia) and Andrew Holness (Jamaica), at a 2019 meeting with former American President Donald Trump at his Mar-A-Lago resort in early 2019. All five Caribbean leaders were excoriated for supporting Trump.
The Biden administration had backed Moïse’s position regarding the timeframe of his tenure in office.
Calls for him to stand down seem to have been premature.
In The Bahamas, the FNM has served four years and two months, with 10 months remaining in the constitutionally allotted five years. This is why it is a bit confusing as to why opposition operatives are so persistent in calling for an election date to be named.
We are acting as if the current administration has served months beyond its allotted term and is therefore legally mandated to hold an election next week at the earliest.
Be that as it may, based on the increasing nasty political rhetoric on both sides of the political aisle, FNM and PLP parliamentarians and candidates must tone down the rhetoric.
They must disavow and distance themselves from the unacceptable antics of their fanatical supporters on Facebook.
Moreover, well-meaning Bahamians must not aid and abet irresponsible Facebookers, who have made a cottage industry out of slandering FNM and PLP politicians.
These individuals have a personal stake in their respective parties winning at the polls, such as a government job or a lucrative contract, etc. The wellbeing of The Bahamas is the least of these political parasites’ concerns.
Bahamians must realize that, from an ideological standpoint, both the FNM and PLP are not that far apart.
With the government apparatus and technocrats deeply entrenched in the civil service, the only difference between the two political parties is that when one is in power, its cronies get to enjoy the spoils of victory. That is all it really boils down to.
In closing, I would hope that the Royal Bahamas Police Force has the presence of mind to beef up security for the leaders of both political parties, as I expect things to get nastier as we approach Election Day.
With the ongoing violence in New Providence, we cannot take anything for granted. God forbid, we do not want what occurred in Haiti to happen here.
In the meantime, Bahamians must stand in solidarity with the Haitian people and the Moïse family during this time of political, civil and social unrest.
— Kevin Evans