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In pictures: The opening of parliament

The opening of the Bahamas’ Parliament by Governor General Cynthia Pratt took place on Wednesday, marking the first time she oversaw the formal start of the parliamentary year as the king’s representative.

Pratt was appointed last month after the House was prorogued on August 12, nearly two years after the Progressive Liberal Party won the government.

It is a ceremonial event on the parliamentary calendar when the governor-general sets out the government’s agenda for the coming session of parliament.

It is a rare occurrence in Bahamian history since the House is typically prorogued to prepare for a general election. Prime Minister Philip Davis said it is his government’s attempt to renew its agenda after “passing over one hundred bills” in parliament.

Since it was prorogued, the Leader of Government Business Obie Wilchcombe died unexpectedly and now the government has appointed Wayne Munroe to the position after the house opened.

Prime Minister, Hon Philip Davis

     

           

Photo credit: Theo Neilly and William Mortimer

Trudeau Still Doesn’t Offer Military Operation on the Ground in Haiti, but Promises Other Help

Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may have disappointed Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry at CARICOM on Thursday when he fell short of offering military presence on the ground in Haiti to quash the surge of unimaginable gang violence in the troubled island nation.

Trudeau instead, promised to deploy two Royal Canadian Navy ships to conduct surveillance and gather intelligence for Haitian police, to assist with quelling the violence –HMCS Glace Bay and Moncton from West Africa, along with 90 sailors.

“Today, I am announcing that Canada will also deploy Royal Canadian Navy vessels to conduct surveillance, gather intelligence and maintain a maritime presence off the Haitian coast in the coming weeks. Canada continues to reinforce the capacities of the Haitian police to overpower armed gangs and hold those who support them accountable.”

Henry, who also participated in the meetings, asked for a foreign military intervention, which the United Nations supports. Instead, the United States suggested that Canada lead the discussions of military operations.

20 dead, thousands flee homes as gangs battle in Haiti - Los Angeles Times

“Canada is elbows deep in terms of trying to help. The best thing we can do to help is enable the Haitian leadership and the patient people themselves to be driving their pathway out of this crisis,” he said in the Bahamas when pressed by reporters.

Trudeau has since stated that Haiti’s restoration must be led by the Haitian people and has left the idea of military intervention as a last resort indicating that Caribbean countries must play a role in “legitimizing” international help, otherwise military operations by the US or Canada can be viewed as “colonialist” interventions.

He also added two other influential Haitians to a list of 15–accused of corruption and gang ties. This group of sanctioned individuals is banned from making economic dealings in Canada—former interim president Jocelerme Privert and ex-political aide Salim Succar.

Gangs Advance on the Seat of Haitian Government Power: 'Haitians Are Hostages' - The New York Times

An additional 12.3 million dollars will be given for humanitarian help and 10 million dollars to assist the International Office on Migration to protect Haitian women and children along the borders.

“The toll of human suffering in Haiti weighs heavily on me.”

Haiti is an embattled country fighting humanitarian, political, and social ills, and since the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in 2021, it has descended into further chaos with the raping of Haitian women and children, kidnappings for ransom, and the killing of law enforcement officers.

 

Photo credits: New York Times, The Guardian

Canada Prime Minister Trudeau Leads on Talks to Quell Haiti’s Crisis

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s arrival in the Bahamas on Wednesday means the beginning of talks on Haiti’s deepening crisis after the US suggested it lead the intervention in the failed island nation.

When Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who will also participate in the CARICOM meetings, asked for a foreign military intervention due to the strangled hold gangs have on his country’s resources, the United States immediately suggested that Canada lead the discussions and send military troops on the ground.

Trudeau has since stated that any effort to restore Haiti must be led by the Haitian people and has left the idea of military intervention as a last resort, though the US said it should lead one.

Before his arrival to the Bahamas, Trudeau’s office said his discussions at the Caribbean summit, will allow leaders to consider political, security, and humanitarian assistance to Haiti and seek “Haitian-led solutions to the ongoing situation.”

According to Canadian media, Trudeau, when speaking in French, stated before his arrival, that Caribbean countries must play a role in “legitimizing” international help for Haitian people after decades of failed “colonialist” interventions.

In a prèss conference on Tuesday, Bahamas Prime Minister Philip Davis said Canada and the United States must step up to assist Haiti since the Bahamas has felt the brunt of Haiti’s economic and social instability, through the influx of thousands of Haitians fleeing the troubled state.

“We (The Bahamas) do not have the resources to be able to deal with the Haiti problem ourselves and we do need outside help.”

Davis hinted that the Bahamas would be willing to send personnel to a security mission if it’s needed.

Waves of violence have swept Haiti marked by poverty, the assassination of Haiti President Jovenel Moise in 2021, rising energy prices, corruption, and civil unrest.

Trudeau will speak to the Caribbean panel on Thursday and leave for Ottawa later in the evening.

Photo: Prime Ministers Justin Trudeau and Ariel Henry arrive in the Bahamas on Wednesday to attend the Caribbean Summit

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden Wishes to Resign Before Election: ‘I Don’t Have the Energy’

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden, known for her strict handling of the COVID-19 pandemic is set to resign within weeks, admitting she does not have the energy to seek re-election in the upcoming elections in October.

What Jacinda Arden says

“The decision was my own,” Ardern said. “Leading a country is the most privileged job anyone could ever have, but also the most challenging. You cannot and should not do the job unless you have a full tank, plus a bit in reserve for those unplanned and unexpected challenges.”

“I no longer have enough in the tank to do the job justice,” she added.

The big picture

Arden’s term will end by February 7, when a new Labour prime minister will be sworn in.

New Zealand’s general election will be held on October 14.

Arden became known as one of the youngest world leaders, serving as prime minister at 37 years old.

Jacinda Ardern Fast Facts | CNN

She gave birth while in office and was re-elected to a second term due to her “go hard and go early” approach to the pandemic, helping to control and lower the number of infections in the country, attracting praise from other countries battling infections.

UK Prime Minister Liz Truss Resigns After Stunning 44 Days in Office

Newly appointed British Prime Minister Liz Truss resigned her position following an economic plan many described as disastrous.

Truss spent only a month and half in office following her official appointment by Queen Elizabeth II on September 6.

Key points

  • Her new mini budget plunged the British pound. Though she reversed it and appointed a new chancellor, she faced opposition within her party and the economic market as UK grapples with inflation.
  • She is now the shortest-serving prime minister in British history.
  • She will remain on as PM until the Conservative Party selects a new party leader next week.
  • She served under former PMs Theresa May and Boris Johnson in various capacities. After Johnson resigned, she was the favourite to replace him.

Liz Truss Succeeds Boris Johnson as Prime Minister of UK

Liz Truss will be the next Prime Minister of Britain after beating Rishi Sunak for the leadership position of the Conservative party.

In her acceptance speech, Truss vowed to press ahead with promised tax cuts and to tackle the rising cost of energy and living.

The big picture

Truss, a close friend of Boris Johnson, is succeeding him after he announced his resignation in July after months of scandals, support for his administration dwindled and many resignations within the party.

Liz competed with Rishi Sunak for the leadership post

Why it matters

Truss was the foreign minister in Johnson’s cabinet and was one of the favorites to win against finance minister Rishi Sunak. She received 81,326 votes while Sunak garnered 60,399 votes.

Truss takes over as Britian faces a high cost of living, industrial unrest, and war in Europe, where Britain has been a strong supporter of Ukraine.

She promised to deliver a great victory for her party in 2024.

What she says

“I will deliver a bold plan to cut taxes and grow our economy. I will deliver on the energy crisis, dealing with people’s energy bills, but also dealing with the long-term issues we have on energy supply.”

What’s next

Johnson will meet with Queen Elizabeth on Tuesday to officially tender his resignation. Truss too will meet with the queen and will be asked by the monarch to form a government.

Johnson said on Twitter, “I know she has the right plan to tackle the cost of living crisis, unite our party and continue the great work of uniting and leveling up our country. Now is the time for all Conservatives to get behind her 100 percent.”

4 Things We Will Miss About Minnis

Former Prime Minister Hubert Minnis is now the outgoing party leader of the Free National Movement.

He served in the position of Opposition Leader in 2012 and won the position of Prime Minister in 2017. Minnis became the fourth prime minister of the Bahamas after overcoming a bitter divide in his party.

During his reign as Prime Minister, Killer Storm Hurricane Dorian hit and destroyed two economic hubs, Abaco and Freeport in 2019, and one year later, the country’s economy was further dismantled because of business shut down and closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

His reign came to an end on September 16, when the FNM lost to the PLP, retaining only seven of the thirty-nine seats.

The party is now preparing to elect a new party leader.

Here are 4 things we will miss about Minnis

COVID-19 Press Conferences

Minnis’ weekly COVID-19 press conferences and national addresses became a staple at the onset of the pandemic. Bahamians, many laid-off, tuned in to get updates on lockdowns, adjustments to curfews and vaccines. Minnis gained thousands of social media followers, some in approval and others critical of his decisions. He became the talk of the town and was unable to shake off the stigma he gained of becoming ‘a dictator.’

Drama

Minnis’ term as prime minister brought drama to the House of Assembly. The many resignations became the signature of his administration: Reece Chipman and Halson Moultrie left the FNM to become Independent MPs; Vaughn Miller crossed the floor to the PLP; Lanisha Rolle stepped down from Cabinet as Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture; Brent Symonette stepped down as Minister of Financial Services, Trade and Industry and Immigration; Minnis’ Deputy and Finance Minister bowed out and Duane Sands left his post as Minister of Health during the pandemic.

The added drama was the $5.5 billion Oban Energies project when the company’s former non-Executive Chairman Peter Kriegar forged a signature at the Heads of Agreement signing. And the Post Office deal that many saw as a conflict of interest since a then sitting Cabinet minister, was the owner of the Town Center Mall that he leased to the government.

Minnis’ indifference

Despite constant criticism, Minnis remained resolute in what he thought was the best thing to do. Minnis was criticized by the public and some from his Cabinet were said to oppose many of his policies, yet he continued on his quest. Some have called him ‘stubborn’ but Minnis carried on and seemed not to care what others thought about him.

He once stated that he would risk losing the election due to his strict handling of the pandemic, though he was being rebuked by the public.

Minnis’ memorable quotes

Quotes used by Minnis were often used for comedic release. “Where’s your compassion? Where’s your soul?” he asked business owners who laid off staff members during the pandemic.

Minnis once said he was going home to make stew when asked by the media about appointing a chief justice.

Another time, while venting his frustration after repeated questions from the media, Minnis responded, “A is A, B is B, 1, 2, 3.”

And the one quote that soured his relationship with former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham was when he stated, “The Ingraham era is over.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Davis’ Cabinet Members

Eight members of the Cabinet were sworn in on Monday afternoon to serve as ministers in the Davis-led administration.

Prime Minister Philip Davis said they will “deliver the party’s promise of a new day.”

  1. Fred Mitchell–Minister of Foreign Affairs. He is an outspoken member of the PLP and was party chairman. He served in the Perry Christie administration in the same position in 2012. When the PLP lost in 2017, he lost his seat but was appointed PLP senator.
  2. Glennys Hanna-Martin–Minister of Education and Vocational Training. She has been a longtime member of the PLP, having served in the Christie administration in 2012 as Minister of Transport and Aviation. The party lost in 2017, but she retained her seat and was one of four PLPs who returned to the Parliament as the opposition.
  3. Michael Darville–Minister of Health. He was the MP for Pineridge and Minister of Grand Bahama in 2012 in the Christie administration. When his party lost, he became a PLP senator.
  4. Michael Halkitis–Minister of Economic Affairs and Leader of Government Business in the Senate. He lost to the FNM in the 2021 election. He served in the Christie administration as the Minister of State for Finance in 2012.
  5. Clay Sweeting–Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs. He ran against FNM MP Ricky Martin in 2017 and lost. The fisherman was then appointed a PLP senator in the Upper Chamber.
  6. Alfred Sears–Minister of Works and Utilities. He was the Member of Parliament for Fort Charlotte from 2000 to 2012 and served in the Christie administration. He lost his seat to the FNM in 2017. He once served as Minister of Education and as Attorney General in the Christie administration.
  7. Wayne Munroe–Minister of National Security. He is a prominent lawyer. He ran in 2017 for the PLP but lost to the FNM. He was also a former DNA member.
  8. Jomo Campbell–Minister of State for Legal Affairs. He is new to politics and is believed to be a lawyer in Wayne Munroe’s office.

Davis said his Cabinet “will move with urgency, that this moment requires.”

Governor-General C.A Smith asked that the country “set aside differences until next five years.” He added, “Don’t worry about tomorrow. Let’s unite and together make a better Bahamas.”

Davis Sworn in as 5th Prime Minister: I Will Lift the Veil of Secrecy

Philip Edward Davis became the 5th Bahamian prime minister on Saturday following a general election where the Progressive Liberal Party won the majority of seats in the House of Assembly.

The swearing-in ceremony was held at the Bahamar Resort, under the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic where the 70-year-old was granted his instruments of appointment, in front of a crowd.

He enters government exactly two days after the country’s early election.

Prime Minister Philip Davis at his Swearing-In Ceremony

Davis was sworn in by Governor General C.A Smith during which he promised to be transparent with all government agendas.

“We’re going to listen. We’re going to consult. We’re going to bring people together. This is the best way to make progress as a nation. No leader and no government should be isolated from the people.

“I also commit to lifting the veil of secrecy from that which has gone before us so that all of the arrangements under which we have to live are transparent and those who offered them are accountable.”

Davis continued, “We will govern in the interest of all Bahamians, not just the privileged few. We will act in ways that will build trust between the government and the Bahamian people.

“We will uphold the constitution and the rule of law and ensure everyone is treated fairly so that there is not one rule for one set of people, and another rule for another set of people.

“There is much work to be done,  but I know that if we work together, we can succeed and build a kind of prosperous, independent Bahamas that our founding fathers dreamt for us,” he said.

Davis took the oath of office on Friday and immediately made changes to the Emergency order, extending curfew to the hours of 11:59 pm to 5 am.

Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper will be sworn in at 2 pm.

Who Will Be the Country’s Next Prime Minister?

In a crowded race, more than five candidates are vying for the position of Prime Minister. These candidates want to lead the Bahamas in a post-pandemic era. The economy needs a revival and the country’s health system needs restoration, both of which have suffered since the start of the COVID19 pandemic.

Who is the best leader for the job?

Here are the leaders of political parties, vying to win the hearts of Bahamians.

Dr Hubert Minnis

Minnis is the incumbent running for the position of prime minister, a post he has held since 2017. The 67-year-old is the parliamentarian for the Killarney constituency. He was a gynecologist and obstetrician before becoming a politician. In 2007, Minnis was elected to Parliament and served as Minister of Health and eventually became leader of the party where he faced many internal conflicts.

After his victory at the polls, Minnis’ leadership was challenged following the devastations caused by Hurricane Dorian in 2019 that destroyed Abaco and parts of Grand Bahama, two economic hubs of the Bahamas.

His greatest test has been the COVID-19 pandemic that forced lockdowns and curfews, resulting in a depressed economy and lost jobs. While some have criticized the lockdowns and curfews imposed by the Emergency Order, some have praised Minnis’ handling of the pandemic and his rollout of the vaccines.

Philip Davis

Davis is the leader of the official opposition party, the Progressive Liberal Party. The 70-year-old is a lawyer and serves as the Member of Parliament for Cat Island and San Salvador. Many people have criticized the poor conditions of these islands where Davis has served since 2002, due to its lack of infrastructural developments.

Davis served as Deputy Leader of the PLP in 2012 and became leader of the party after his party’s defeat at the polls in 2017.

Davis has been a strong opponent of the Emergency Order and criticized the lockdowns and curfews imposed by the government. He has been described as the “flip-flopper” who changes his views on government policies to suit his talking points.

Arinthia Komolafe

Komolafe is the leader of the Democratic National Alliance, a position she inherited in 2019 after the resignation of its interim party leader. The 41-year-old became the first woman to lead a political party.

She is a banker and lawyer and was a former member of the Progressive Liberal Party. Komolafe has recently faced conflicts within her party that became public in recent months. Some have questioned her ability to lead a country due to her gender and her marriage to a foreigner.

This year, she was detained by police for an illegal protest held in Parliament Square which some have called ‘gender bias.’

She has received praise for her enlightenment and communication skills.

DNA is the third viable option for voters, but the party has lost its spark. It will be the third time the party goes to the polls after the 2012 and 2017 election results.

In 2012, the party received 13,000 votes and received 7,537 votes in 2017.

Lincoln Bain

Bain is a controversial talk show host turned politician. Bain has sought nomination from two political groups, FNM and DNA, but was not successful. He formed the Coalition of Independents in 2021, a party that accrued independent candidates to run in the upcoming General Election.

Bain initially formed an activist group, Bahamian Evolution which lobbied for Bahamians to benefit from the country’s natural resources, but it has since morphed into a political group.

Bain opposes the COVID19 vaccines and led protests to oppose government policies. His campaign has been mainly social media based as he seeks to expose corruption. He has attracted a large social media following.

Bain promises Bahamians that if he is elected, he will ensure each Bahamian receive $100,000.

It remains to be seen if he can turn followers into voters.

Cassius Stuart

Stuart founded the Bahamas Democratic Movement but he later dissolved the party after joining the FNM in 2011.

The businessman has since left the FNM and restarted his party. Stuart seems to have no momentum but says he has a plan to move the country forward.