Thompson enters leadership race

East Grand Bahama MP Kwasi Thompson has entered the race for leader of the Free National Movement (FNM). 

“After prayerful consideration and consultation with my family, I will offer myself as a candidate for leader of the Free National Movement,” he said in a statement.

The party will hold a special one-day convention on November 27 to elect a new leader.

Thompson, the former minister of state for finance and Grand Bahama during the Minnis administration, said now is the time for the party to rebuild and renew itself. 

“We have had many successes in government,” Thompson said. 

“At our 50th anniversary, there is much to celebrate about our legacy. But at times we have fallen short. At times, we could have paid more attention to public sentiment.

“Our mission is to return to government to build on our accomplishments. We must do so with greater humility, compassion, and openness.”

Thompson will face off against Central Grand Bahama MP Iram Lewis. 

Insiders say Marco City MP Michael Pintard is also considering running for leader, but he has remained mum on the matter. 

The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), which suffered one of its worst defeats in 2017, repaid the debt in 2021 when Dr. Hubert Minnis and the FNM were swept out of office in a crushing defeat winning only seven of the 39 seats.

Many felt that the Minnis administration was not open to criticism and mishandled Hurricane Dorian recovery efforts and the management of the COVID-19 pandemic.

After the party’s defeat, Minnis said he would serve as leader of the opposition. 

After a September 22 meeting of the FNM, party Chairman Carl 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 weeks later Minnis was evasive on whether he would run for leader during the party’s one-day convention.

In multiple interviews, he dodged the question.

Sources said the former prime minister was soliciting support for a possible run but was rebuffed. 

On Friday, when asked, former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said he found it fascinating that people were still questioning whether Minnis would attempt to remain as leader when it’s “clear as day” that a new leader will emerge during the party’s convention next month.

Hours later, Minnis issued a statement saying he would not be running.

On Sunday, in a tearful farewell during the party’s 50th anniversary, Minnis asked for forgiveness for any mistakes he may have made. 

Thompson said, “It was an honor to serve with Dr. Hubert Minnis. I honor this great leader of our party and recognize his service to our party and to our nation.

“It is on his shoulders I stand with gratitude. He has decided not to offer himself for election as leader.”

Thompson said he is ready to take the reins and lead the party and stressed that the party must be united.

“The FNM must unify behind a common purpose and shared goals,” he said.

“There is much more that unites us than divides us. No institution can succeed when divided. We know from scripture that when a people are unified they can accomplish great things. The FNM is an extraordinary institution when unified.

“We have seen our party succeed against tremendous odds because we were united.

“We should not operate in silos. To achieve greater collegiality and collaboration we must be committed to systems and processes that lend themselves to greater unity and openness. Our leadership must also unite us.”

As noted, the FNM’s convention next month will exclusively deal with selecting a new leader.

The party will then hold a full convention next February where all other positions will be up for grabs.

St. Barnabas MP Shanendon Cartwright has expressed interest in running for a leadership post. 

Defeated Yamacraw MP Elsworth Johnson said he intends to run for chairman in February.

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Travis Cartwright-Carroll

Travis Cartwright-Carroll is the assistant editor. He covers a wide range of national issues. He joined The Nassau Guardian in 2011 as a copy editor before shifting to reporting. He was promoted to assistant news editor in December 2018. Education: College of The Bahamas, English

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