NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis yesterday urged Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis to pick a date and announce the upcoming general election, as political parties ramp up campaigning amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement, Davis admitted that campaigning during a pandemic increases coronavirus risks and urged party candidates and supporters to “campaign as safely as possible”.
He noted that as new COVID-19 cases in the country rise, any gathering of people inevitably represents additional risk.
Davis noted that Minnis has recently spent “hundreds of thousands of dollars” on television ads to persuade Bahamians and insisted that for the prime minister to show Bahamians he considers their health important, “he can set the date for the upcoming elections”.
e said: “If he says he intends to call an election shortly, or if he continues to so visibly ramp up his own campaign activity without announcing a date, campaign activities across the country will continue to intensify, as registering new voters, ratifying candidates and preparing for the vote is the only responsible path for all those who recognize the terrible danger of allowing this incompetent government another five years in office.
“But if he intends to set the election in 2022, he should pick the date and announce it, allowing all political parties to suspend major campaign activities until the current surge of COVID cases has abated.”
The prime minister has previously defended political organizations campaigning, insisting that all individuals wore facials masks and followed other health measures.
“You would have seen them still spacing somewhat and each and every one, regardless of the political organization, each and every one was wearing a mask,” he told reporters last month.
Health officials have stopped short of condemning political gatherings and campaigning, but have underscored that public health measures, including social distancing, limited group gatherings and mask-wearing, should be adhered to by all and are not exclusive to any group.
But the PLP leader yesterday pointed to the prime minister’s campaign pledge to implement a fixed election date and insisted that he keep the promise he made to Bahamians.
“If he (Minnis) can’t bring himself to set the date for the right reason — to better safeguard the health of Bahamians amid rising COVID cases — then he should consider doing it because he could then at least say he kept one of the many, many promises made on the campaign trail in 2017,” Davis said
“Campaign Minnis was full of promises — here’s an opportunity to keep one.”
He added that as Minnis’ “tenure as prime minister is nearly over, he should think about whether he wants to salvage some of what is left of his reputation by doing at least this one unselfish thing for his country”.