East Grand Bahama MP Kwasi Thompson, who is hoping to be elected the new leader of the Free National Movement (FNM) over the weekend, said yesterday that it is time for the party to return to its core values.
Thompson, who served as a senator and Cabinet minister under the Minnis administration, said it is clear that the party needs new leadership and a new plan.
Thompson said the party should be guided primarily by principles.
“Don’t just focus on a leader, but focus on the principles of why the party exists and why we believe in the philosophy of this party,” he said.
“Democrats are not democrats because they believe in the president. They are democrats because they believe in the Democratic Party.
“So, I say to our supporters, do not support the FNM just because you like a Kwasi Thompson, but do so because you believe in the principles of the FNM. Let principles be brought forward and people be in a lesser extent. And that is how I believe we unite the party.”
Thompson said that, if elected, he would undertake work to unify the party, making it more service-oriented, more inclusive, and introduce a long-term national development plan to guide the party’s policy over the course of numerous terms.
“We are so focused on having five-year development manifestos,” Thompson said.
“And the reality is we don’t ever finish all of the things that are in those five-year manifestos.
“They sound good, they are wonderful when it comes to campaigning, but I believe what we must do is bring all of our FNM supporters and also those who wish to contribute to a national development plan and have a long-term national development plan and, out of that plan, then we’ll have five-year manifestos, so that we don’t ever have to guess what direction the FNM is going in.”
Thompson said he would also seek to include more women and young people in the FNM’s front line.
“Bahamian politics must represent the way The Bahamas looks,” he said.
“Frontline FNM politics, we must ensure that we look like The Bahamas. The Bahamas is majority women and young people.
“And so, we must focus on ensuring that our front line looks like the rest of The Bahamas. Include more women; include more young people into our frontline politics.”
The FNM, which came into power in 2017, in an overwhelming victory, winning 35 of the 39 seats in Parliament, suffered a nearly equally immense loss at the polls in the last general election, which was held in September.
The party, led by former Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, retained just seven seats, in what many viewed as an indictment of Minnis and his leadership.
Thompson will be running against Marco City MP Michael Pintard and Central Grand Bahama MP Iram Lewis in the convention, which will be held on Saturday.
Thompson said yesterday it is also vital that the FNM is a strong opposition over the course of this term, and he said he believes he is the person best suited to lead the party in the coming years.
“Dr. Minnis decided that he was not going to offer himself as leader again,” Thompson said.
“And that really brought into fact that we needed new leadership into the party. We have three very, very talented and capable persons who have offered themselves.
“Personally, I believe I’m the best of the choices, but we still have very, very capable persons, persons who I believe are my political brothers. And at the end of the day, we are still going to have to stand on the side of each other and support each other, regardless of the result.
“But we need new leadership in our party. We need a new vision for our party. We need new energy, new passion, and we need to rebuild our party.”