Nassau, The Bahamas – Former Prime Minister and leader of the opposition held a press conference in the conference room of the House of Assembly, where he took exception to comments by Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham concerning the election court results. Below is a full text of Mr. Christie’s comments.
Leader of the opposition Perry Christie
PRESS STATEMENT: Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie MP
On Election Court Matters
I wish to address the issue of the recent court challenge by Allyson Gibson in the Pinewood constituency and in particular the judgment of the court in the matter.
First I want to again commend Allyson Maynard Gibson for, through her determination and courage, she has won a great victory for all Bahamians. Her actions have strengthened our democracy.
We must now look to what the Justices had to say in their judgment, and; more importantly, how we address the matters which the court found to be most serious indeed.
I want to be clear that, as Bahamians, we should consider this judgment as one of the most important legal decisions of our time as it strikes to the heart of our nation’s sovereignty and as the judgment states in paragraph 12:
“Perhaps the time is appropriate for the Parliamentary Commissioner to comprehensively examine the practices and procedures of the Parliamentary Registration Department with a view to ensuring that what we saw in Pinewood does not reoccur because it threatens to undermine the fundamental basis of our Parliamentary Democracy.”
Whenever a non Bahamian can buy a voter’s card for $1000 and vote in a Bahamian General Election;
Whenever statements made by that same non-Bahamian Manani Taylor suggest that this was not an isolated incident;
It is a threat to our birthright and clearly undermines the way we govern ourselves. As Bahamians, we should all be gravely concerned.
But I also want to take this opportunity to address some belligerent and improper remarks made by the Prime Minister yesterday.
He addressed these remarks to me about the electoral process.
Let me say that I reject them entirely.
The only one who ought to be ashamed is the Prime Minister himself.
He should be ashamed for yet again demonstrating to the young people of this country how not to be behave.
The country has had enough of this tiresome, ugly and nasty language and Hubert Ingraham simply needs to act with the dignity and maturity that Bahamians expect of the person holding the office of Prime Minister.
The Pinewood Election Court case has revealed that our system has much for which to answer.
The judgment of the Court is sufficient to cause all parties, including the Government, to review these matters seriously. This cries out for examination and reform.
We know, for example, that individuals were registered for the 2007 election who were not qualified to be on the registration list, even to the extent of registering non citizens.
As Prime Minister, Mr. Ingraham must say how he intends to deal with that issue.
Mr. Ingraham must know that Ministerial responsibility does not extend to fraud and corruption on the part of individuals who would tamper with the system.
Perry Christie and the PLP were not there when Manani Taylor says he paid $1000 for a voter’s card;
Perry Christie and the PLP were not there when people were allowed to register to vote who were not qualified to be so registered;
As Prime Minister, Mr. Ingraham cannot flippantly dismiss these issues and the issues raised by the Justices, where they state:
“Perhaps the time is appropriate for the Parliamentary Commissioner to comprehensively examine the practices and procedures of the Parliamentary Registration Department with a view to ensuring that what we saw in Pinewood does no reoccur…”
This is a matter which should not be dealt with lightly, but as a serious issue that needs to be addressed by all parties in the best interest of the Bahamian people and our democracy.
Further, how can a Prime Minister who is the guardian of our constitution can sit and call the lawful processes that help to guard the constitution “a game“. Indeed, the judgment states:
“This Court was appointed and mandated by Article 51 of the Constitution to hear and determine, inter alia, whether any person has been validly elected and is the guardian of our parliamentary democracy.
“Accordingly, any suggestion, that this constitutional function may be unnecessary, does a disservice to the Constitution and its noble objective.”
The country is in serious need of leadership. While Bimini is burning and schoolboys get murdered – shot to death – in broad daylight on Bay Street, Hubert Ingraham is wasting time on political rallies, talking about counting, counting and more counting.
If Mr. Ingraham wishes to count, let him count the many challenges affecting this country and the strategies that can best be adopted to overcome them:
Let him count the murders, which have cast a cloud of fear over the country. Let him tell us, as he counts, what his government plans to do about it;
Let him count the 100 million dollars and more in reduction in our foreign reserves since the FNM has come to power;
Let him count the 100 million dollars that has been taken out of our economy by the reduction in the GDP growth rate for 2007 from 4.5 percent to 3 percent;
Let him count the number of people who are dying every day because of a lack of a National Health Insurance Programme;
Let him count the scores of civil servants he has unceremoniously terminated and or failed to renew their contracts;
Let him count the hundreds of young men who are now sitting on the blocks unemployed because the contractors now say that 70 percent of them are now out of work;
Let him count the 90 million dollars in contracts he has reviewed, cancelled or stopped.
Mr. Ingraham needs to get on with making all the necessary approvals on the projects we left before him, like the Bahamar and Albany projects and he needs to do it right now!