INGRAHAM TO FNM: SIT OUT BY-ELECTION ...but party will run after decision by council members


Tribune Reporters

FORMER Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham advised Free National Movement leader Michael Pintard not to contest the upcoming by-election for West End Grand Bahama and Bimini.

 Mr Pintard revealed this to FNM council members during a private meeting at the party’s headquarters last night, according to two sources who spoke anonymously because they were not authorised to discuss internal party matters.

 Mr Pintard and Mr Ingraham declined to comment when The Tribune contacted them last night.

 Mr Pintard, presenting a balanced case to council members before they voted on the matter, said Mr Ingraham reflected on the history of by-elections in the country and concluded they favour the Progressive Liberal Party. Mr Ingraham, he reportedly said, believes the party would be best served focusing on the next general election.

 The PLP won the only two by-elections held this century: in 2012 after Mr Ingraham resigned as MP for North Abaco and in 2010 after Malcolm Adderley resigned as Elizabeth’s MP.

 Ultimately, the FNM’s council unanimously voted last night to contest the by-election to replace Obie Wilchcombe, who died unexpectedly on Monday. Senior members believe it would be unseemly for a party of the FNM’s stature not to run a candidate.

 The meeting further established Bishop Ricardo Grant as the frontrunner to be nominated for the constituency, reportedly backed by the leaders of the West End Grand Bahama and Bimini constituency associations. Bishop Grant has been working in the constituency and is said to be known to residents there.

 The picture within the Progressive Liberal Party is less clear.

 “As the country is in mourning, it is inappropriate for the Progressive Liberal Party to be accepting any requests or expressions of interest for candidacy before the funeral or any formal processes in parliamentary law have begun,” PLP chairman Fred Mitchell said in a statement yesterday.

 Meanwhile, Parliamentary clerk David Forbes said House Speaker Patricia Deveaux had not yet formally informed Governor General Cynthia “Mother” Pratt about Wilchcombe’s death, an action that would kickstart the official process leading to the election.

 “She will be doing it in very short order,” he said.

 He said some people are misinformed about the protocol.

 “You have to remember that the Speaker of the House has to have proper notice,” he said. “You may hear people out there saying that the political party, or the governor, or the government should advise the Speaker, but that’s not true.”

 “The political party nor the government can sign death notices. Death notices can only be signed by the coroner,” he added.

 “The coroner has to inform the Speaker or the attorney general. If the coroner informs the attorney general, the attorney general will then send a copy of that to the Speaker. The Speaker has to be properly notified, and that notification can’t come from anybody else except the person who is able to sign the death certificate, which is the coroner.”

 Mr Wilchcombe’s death creates voids in the executive and the legislature, given his role as a minister and the leader of government business in the House of Assembly. The Royal Bahamas Police Force is expected to host a press conference today about next week’s Opening of Parliament, an event Mr Wilchcombe was helping to organise before he died.

 Office of the Prime Minister director of communications Latrae Rahming said Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis had assumed the duties of Minister of Social Services, Information and Broadcasting.

 “At the appropriate time, he will appoint a substantive minister,” he said yesterday. “The government is focused on celebrating the life and legacy of Minister Wilchcombe.”