Published On: Thu, May 11th, 2017

Former Bahamas PM loses seat, party loses power as FNM sweeps election

hubert-minnisNASSAU – Perry Christie became the first prime minister in the Bahamas to lose his Parliamentary seat, on a day that Bahamians delivered a crushing blow to his Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and ushered in the Free National Movement (FNM), giving them almost all the seats in Parliament.

Christie conceded defeat last night, congratulating FNM leader Dr. Hubert Minnis on his party’s stunning 35-4 victory (based on preliminary results).

Just before 10 p.m., before the final count was in, Christie released a statement in which he wished Minnis the best.

“I understand, as perhaps few others, the challenges that await Dr. Minnis, and I wish him only success on behalf of our nation. He has my full support for a smooth transition,” said Christie, who preliminary results show losing his Centreville constituency by 25 votes to political newcomer Reece Chipman of the FNM.

PLP  chairman Bradley Roberts admitted the party was caught off guard by the result and would now have to consider its next step.

Among the other PLP political casualties in the election were former Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell, former Minister of Tourism Obediah Wilchcombe, and former Minister of Labour Shane Gibson.

And while they and other losing PLP candidates were scratching their heads, trying to figure out what had gone wrong, supporters in the FNM camp were celebrating, singing “so long, bye bye” to 73-year old Christie and his administration.

In his victory speech before the party faithful, Minnis acknowledged the serious challenges that lie ahead, but said the FNM was “confident that with God’s help and with hard work, we shall overcome.”

Saying the road to victory was a long-fought battle, he thanked supporters who had rallied behind him and his party.

But Minnis also assured that those who did not, that they would have nothing to fear as the FNM takes over the reins of government.

“Our founding fathers didn’t believe in victimization, and neither do we,” he said, assuring that his administration would not deny any Bahamian access to opportunity based on partisan politics.

However, added Dr Minnis, who is set to be sworn in this evening, “those who abused positions of trust may have something to fear. We will give the Auditor General the money and tools he needs to find how the people’s money was spent, and if there is evidence of criminality we will let the law take its course.”

Earlier in the day, polling had to be suspended in the constituencies of Elizabeth and Seabreeze due to technical problems. When it eventually resumed, voting hours had to be extended up to two hours in two instances.

Parliamentary Commissioner Charles Albury stressed that the challenges were not related to irregularities in the electoral process.

In the Elizabeth constituency, he said, there were some technical problems related to a few ballots, while he did not specify the nature of the issues in the Seabreeze constituency.

Albury extended the voting hours in Elizabeth 15 minutes past the scheduled 6 p.m. close, with the exception of one polling division where voting was extended to 8:15 p.m.

In the Seabreeze constituency, voting was allowed in one polling division for an additional two hours, closing at 8 p.m.

The election was observed by missions from CARICOM, Commonwealth, the Organization of American States and the United States.

Albury was forced to issue a statement during the day to refute claims circulating on social media that the election observers had called for the vote to be cancelled.

He said that except for the issues in Elizabeth and Seabreeze, voting had gone smoothly across The Bahamas since 8 a.m. when polls opened.

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