Tuesday, September 26, 2023


Why rape, assault and death threat charges can’t stop Kirk Cornish from being MP for North Abaco

North Abaco MP Kirk Cornish was charged with rape, assault, and death threats on Wednesday for alleged abuse of his former girlfriend between January and April. The charges against the sitting Member of Parliament raised a legal question—do criminal charges disqualify Cornish from representing North Abaco in the House of Assembly?

The short answer is that even though Cornish is charged, the two counts of rape, two counts of assault, and one count of death threats against him cannot cause him to resign from the seat.

No law or rule stops him from staying in the House of Assembly while fighting the charges.

Cornish, a first-time MP, after winning the North Abaco seat in the September 2021 General Election, is not legally required to resign from his seat unless he is convicted and sentenced to more than 12 months in prison, according to Article 48 (1)(f) of the constitution.

If pressure from his party and the public builds, he can choose to leave his seat and the vacant seat would then require a by-election–when political parties put forward candidates as replacements for the MP who quit Parliament. Voters from the North Abaco constituency will choose who should succeed him.

In a statement released before his arraignment, Cornish defended his role as the partner in the two-year relationship with Warduia Lightbourne. “The charges are based on allegations which are totally false.

“I am fully confident that the facts which emerge during the judicial process will prove my innocence. I look forward to ending this nightmare…this was a breakup that was manipulated and exploited for political reasons—and nothing more.

“The truth will set me free.”

The charges are embarrassing for the Progressive Liberal Party and have thrust the mp’s conduct into the national spotlight since he also served as parliamentary secretary in the Prime Minister’s office before his resignation on Tuesday night.

While he is not the first sitting parliamentarian to be charged with a crime, it is a practical hurdle that could inhibit the governing party’s campaign in the next general election.

What to know about the woman accusing Kirk Cornish of rape, assault and death threats

The woman who accused Kirk Cornish of raping, assaulting and issuing death threats against her during their two-year relationship, was named in a court document as Warduia Lightbourne.

Earlier in the year when Lightbourne made the allegations, she was never officially identified but remained anonymous with broadcast media only showing her lower extremities as she recounted the horrid details entailing her boyfriend, the first-time North Abaco MP.

She filed the police report in April and Cornish was charged on Wednesday on five counts–two counts of rape, two counts of assault and one count of threats of death. She is expected to testify against him when the trial date is set, which will thrust her into the national spotlight.

Who is Warduia Lightbourne?

Lightbourne’s  Facebook page said she studied medicine in Cuba and pictures show her in a medical uniform as she holds a certificate from the Latin America School of Medicine in Havana.

Friends congratulated her as a pediatrician in 2020.

How did Warduia Lightbourne describe the rape, assault and death threats?

The 35-year-old accused Cornish of raping, assaulting and threatening her between January and April.

According to the claims, Cornish choked her twice near unconsciousness, then poked her in the eye which he excused to be ‘an accident’ while the couple stayed in Abaco.

She alleged he even threatened to kill her family while she watched.

On March 24 while spending time in Nassau together, Lightbourne said Cornish held a knife to her throat and attempted to stab her.

Then on April 4, he ripped off her pants and underwear and forced himself on her. Before leaving the house, the MP said he came by to kill the family but ‘not enough of the family was in the yard.’

She then filed a police report on April 7.

During her conversation with the media in April, she said, “…something has to be done because he needs help, and whatever route that takes, it has to be done.

“I didn’t do this to hurt him. I did this to help him.”

How the PLP Is Using Clint Watson as a Weapon in Its Propaganda War

For the governing party, former Press Secretary Clint Watson is a tool in its propaganda war.

As he transitions to general manager at the country’s national television broadcaster ZNS, it is hoped he will assert the political might of the PLP and expand its influence on the national airwaves.

When Watson was recruited from Eye Witness News after he vehemently lambasted the Minnis-led administration and pushed the PLP’s messaging in the run-up to the general election in 2021, he parroted the government’s perspective from the Office of the Prime Minister and he will do the same from his position as general manager of ZNS, hoping to attract thousands of Bahamians to a dying station as he promotes PLP’s virtues, deflects criticisms and advances the government’s talking points.

Expect the government’s propaganda tool to intensify in its campaign.

An anonymous source told the Tribune that Watson could assist in pushing the government’s message to the public after developing a close relationship with Prime Minister Philip Davis and his administration.

Minister of State with responsibility for ZNS Myles Laroda seemingly used a defense mechanism to deflect the appointment, saying, “I could confirm that, that decision was made by the Board of Directors,” he told the media on Tuesday after months of speculations.

“You know, the public will make up its mind when they see the product of ZNS. Clint Watson has worked at various agencies and I don’t think we’re gonna disqualify individuals because they work at OPM,” he said after reporters questioned Watson’s ability to be neutral.

The Progressive Liberal Party has taken a page out of an old propaganda playbook that uses recognizable faces with well-paid jobs to become propaganda spinners. This comes after the governing party depleted media houses of journalists and positioned them in government offices after it took control.

As the party seeks to hold onto power and aims to be re-elected in the 2026 General Election, it is increasingly concerned about its public image since public opinions are growing more hostile due to increased crime, booming migrations, and the high cost of living.

The PLP now realizes it needs to improve its media strategy, using ZNS, a crucial battleground, as its mouthpiece.

Watson’s success will be determined and graded by his ability to disseminate narratives that amplify the governing party’s propaganda and weaken the party’s competitor, the Free National Movement.

The PLP Makes Wife of Its Founding Father Mad

Lady Marguerite Pindling is not happy right now, about the party her husband Sir Lynden Pindling founded.

The prominent figure and former Governor General gave a scorching rebuke of the Progressive Liberal Party on Majority Rule Day, the same day marked in honor of her husband’s fight for equality for Bahamians.

Standing near his gravesite at a ceremony behind a podium, she said the party is using her husband as “a stepping stone.”

“I do not appreciate it,” she said as her hands shook.

Prime Minister Philip Davis who now leads the PLP, sat in the front row, emotionless, along with former Prime Minister Perry Christie, who succeeded Pindling. He too sat quietly as a small crowd gathered under and around a tent, clapping and cheering.

“I’m sorry Mr Prime Minister, I promise I was going to behave, but I think yall should know who I am by now.

“You owe me an apology and I expect Mr Chairman [Fred Mitchell], right now,” she concluded before she abruptly walked off to her seat.

Her remarks are surprising since she has never made a public political commentary. Though it is unclear why she is upset, her anger against the party may have been brewing for some time. Her daughter Monique Pindling castigated the party in 2021 when she was refused the nomination as candidate for South Andros, also claiming the PLP only wants to use her father’s name when it is convenient, suggesting the party alluded to the negativity attached to the Pindling legacy.

“It’s not that we have sole ownership [of his legacy] but my thought is, you can’t use him when it’s convenient for you, you can’t use him for good and then say it’s bad, you can’t use him when it’s good occasions or certain occasions and then drop him when you feel like it,” Monique said in 2021.

“If you’re gonna use him, use him for good. Don’t just use him as if he’s a commodity when you could get up and you could say what you want to say.”

She said about a meeting in January of that year which she described as “interesting” and “tight.”

“They wanted me or my mom or my family to participate at the (Sir Lynden’s) gravesite for Majority Rule,” referring to the celebration in 2021.

Pindling is revered as the most dominant figure in Bahamian politics.

Lady Pindling continued on Tuesday, “The leadership was so excited, they forgot I existed. But I want you to know that I’m alive, doing well, of sound mind, and in good health. And waiting for all that is going to take place. Because I do not like it. I’m sorry Mr Mitchell, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I cannot contain it any longer.”

The questions are whether the party will lose supporters who revered Sir Lynden Pindling, will the party now be viewed as unstable, and whether Lady Pindling’s remark has created a bad image for the party.


Photo credit: Tribune–Moise Amisial

‘I Do Not Know’: Prime Minister Davis Addresses Governing Party’s Tie to FTX

Following weeks of speculations on the governing party’s connection to FTX, the billionaire exchange headquartered in the Bahamas, Prime Minister Philip Davis addressed speculations that the Progressive Liberal Party received money from the exchange.

“Not to my knowledge,” he said when reporters asked whether or not FTX donated to the party’s campaign in 2021 or whether or not anyone in the party took any money from FTX.

He clarified, “I do not hold any wallets. In fact, I’m agnostic to it.”

Davis said he does not know if any Cabinet minister held digital wallets with the crypto giant.

“I do not know that.”

Why it matters

Former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried is known for his altruism and has given away millions of dollars to international and national charities.

US politicians have also received millions of dollars in campaign donations from ‘the crypto genius.’

Sam Bankman-Fried is thought to have close ties to the Progressive Liberal Party. The Opposition has questioned the governing party, asking, whether or not the PLP accepted donations from Bankman-Fried, did the party hold digital wallets with FTX, and whether it did its due diligence to screen the company before its operation in the Bahamas.

The big picture

FTX, valued at 32 billion dollars, filed for bankruptcy last week. And Sam Bankman-Fried stepped down as CEO.

John Ray, the man known for overseeing the Enron scandal in the US, is the new CEO of FTX.

The collapse has caused chaos in the financial market. However, Bankman-Fried, now a crypto villain, says he is still working to recoup customer funds, purported to be billions of dollars lost in the collapse.

FTX has a big hole in its balance sheet and owes its top 50 creditors alone, some 3.1 billion dollars.

State of Play

Davis’ expressions like “Not to my knowledge” and “I do not know” may not be outright denials as reported by some local media. It can mean that he is not completely certain or the information has not been officially presented to him.


Prime Minister Davis ‘Us vs Them’ Mentality on the FTX Fiasco Is Manipulative

FTX, the 32-billion dollar exchange, with its headquarters in the Bahamas has made a mess of the crypto market since its collapse and has now become a global conversation.

As scrutiny arises, Prime Minister Philip Davis who has welcomed former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried to the Bahamas has remained mum on the fiasco, only to say “those who care about our country’s reputation” should tread carefully when they speak about the complex matter involving FTX which he says is still “unfolding.”

“There is a reason that the Bahamas won international praise for the approach we have taken, to date, on digital assets, and there is also plenty of room to have a healthy debate about the industry, but this is a story that has the world’s attention, and those who use it to mislead and score cheap political points are no patriots,” Davis said.

His comments in the House of Assembly are manipulative and are steeped in an antiquated belief system.

It’s an attempt to keep the public quiet while the world talks about the issue and suggests that to ask questions, you’re doing something wrong.

It also suggests that any attempt to discuss FTX is “unpatriotic” and will ruin the country’s image.

Davis attempts to implement an ‘us versus them’ mentality which can be destructive, divides the Bahamas from the rest of the world, and forces Bahamians to pick a side and automatically make judgments about the other side without taking a realistic view of what happened.

Opposition Leader Michael Pintard then responded stating that he was surprised “at the brevity and to a large extent, the hollowness” of the prime minister’s remarks on the downfall of FTX.

“We are facing a substantial risk to our financial services sector and one would’ve expected that since the international community’s eyes are trained on the Commonwealth of The Bahamas that on this occasion that this Davis-Cooper administration would’ve thought it necessary to break its silence much earlier with a far more comprehensive statement given the gravity of this.”

There may be circumstances where Davis’ concept of waiting until all the evidence is brought to the forefront before making allegations, could be applied, but FTX is global.  The fiasco is not a secret. The world’s a global village.

Bankman-Fried was a crypto sensation living and working in the Bahamas and rubbed shoulders with prominent US politicians and A-list celebrities. Therefore, his headquarters in the Bahamas will bring scrutiny.

Of course, Bahamians have questions and they deserve to be answered and one’s patriotism should not be based on the questions they have about FTX’s dealings and connection to the governing party.

Bahamians deserve to know more from Davis and he should willingly answer any of the questions from the Opposition leader such as did the PLP accept donations from Bankman-Fried, did it hold digital wallets with FTX, and whether it did its due diligence to screen the company before its operation in the Bahamas.

Davis should not expect Bahamians to stick to his script.

5 Things to Know About the New Commissioner of Police

Clayton Fernander was sworn in on Tuesday as the country’s 9th Commissioner of Police, replacing outgoing Commissioner Paul Rolle.

Rolle resigned from the police force with nearly forty years of service and handed the reins to Fernander who was appointed Deputy Commissioner in December 2021 after the Progressive Liberal Party was sworn in as the new government.

Leamond Deleveaux who was sent on leave with Fernander was appointed Deputy Commissioner.

Fernander’s appointment comes at a time when the country is dealing with troubling murder rates which are hitting unprecedented numbers. Seventy-four murders have been recorded so far for the year.


Here’s what to know about Fernander:

  1. While serving on the police force, Fernander was known for his connection to the Progressive Liberal Party and may have suffered for it when the Free National Movement was elected in 2017. He and three other officers holding top posts were eventually sent on leave in 2019 which many argue was a political move.
  2. Fernander was reappointed when the Progressive Liberal Party became the new government and became Deputy Commissioner.
  3. Prime Minister Philip Davis said Fernander is “the right man for the job.”
  4. He joined the police force in 1982, serving in traffic and the criminal investigation department, and once headed the Central Detective Unit before his promotion to Assistant Commissioner
  5. He was shot multiple times at his home, in an attempted armed robbery in 2013, sustaining injuries to his arm and upper body. “…I can recall and reflect back when I was a victim where I had arrived home and individuals were there waiting for me and held [me] up and robbed me, and [shot me] during that time, so it’s never a good thing look down the barrel of a firearm.”

House Speaker Berates White for ‘Wrong’ Color Necktie: Don’t Come Back Here in That

In the middle of the 2022-2023 Budget Debate, House Speaker Patricia Deveaux scolded the Member of Parliament for Montague, Adrian White for wearing the “wrong color necktie” in the House of Assembly.

White was making contributions to the debate when Deveaux argued an earlier comment made by White in his speech.

“He’s getting out of hand today. And I ain’t even pick on him cause he ain’t even wearing the right color tie today,” she said to FNM Leader Michael Pintard who stood up to request more time for White.

House Speaker scolds Adrian White Montague MP because of his color choice in neckties.

She then turns to White, “Don’t come back here in that–[It’s either] black, grey [or] blue.”

White responded, “My tie is in accordance with the rules, Madam Speaker.”

Deveaux retorts, “It ain’t. Oh no.”

White then emphasizes that the House rules speak to the wearing of “dark color suits” only.

Deveaux seeks clarification from the House clark and then reiterates, “Dark colors, okay.”

Fort Charlotte MP Alfred Sears then stands to his feet to support Deveaux while reading from the rule book:

“Rule 93 says the dress of the members of the House including the Speaker at sittings shall be dark suits with ties for men and dark business suits or dress for women provided on state or formal occasions.”

He added, “The tie must be consistent,” before sitting down.

Defending himself, White said other ministers were seen wearing yellow ties in the past to which Deveaux said, “Not in here. Not under my watch. Now you cut it out.”

Montague MP Adrian White is seen buttoning his coat suit.

She then impressed upon White to button his jacket.

At the conclusion of his speech, he showed Deveaux an image of a PLP member wearing a yellow necktie.


What the Retirement of Police Commissioner Means for the Bahamas

It was a surprising and spontaneous announcement.

Commissioner of Police Paul Rolle will retire from the police force this year after nearly 40 years of service.

His exit comes after nearly two years as the police chief.

Clayton Fernander was appointed deputy commissioner in December, after the Progressive Liberal Party was elected. Many believe he will be the next Commissioner of Police.

The news has stirred speculation that Deputy Commissioner Clayton Fernander will succeed him at the end of his term. Though few expected his tenure to expire so soon after reassuring the public of an extended stay on the force, many anticipated his end was sooner since a new government was elected.

Here’s what you need to know:

Why is he retiring now?

Paul Rolle has been the Commissioner since 2020. He took on the role at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, helping to navigate the pandemic and enforce the country’s COVID-19 measures.

While addressing reporters outside of a charitable event hosted by the RBPF, Rolle was asked about his tenure and unable to navigate the conversation, he blurted, “I met with the team this morning and I could say to you that I do intend to make my exit from the police force at some point. I will have 40 years and so I’m looking down the 40-year mark and I’ll make a decision on that in due course.”

He is four years away from retirement age but has already spent 40 years on the police force. An extension can be granted if the new government, the Progressive Liberal Party, really wants to.

Though governments dismiss that the appointment of commissioners is non-political, Bahamian history has shown that each elected government appoints police chiefs who align with their party’s philosophy and hasten the removal of those who do not.

In December, three months after the new government was elected, Rolle backed by Prime Minister Philip Davis sought to dismiss claims he would be replaced and said he had no plans to leave the Force. “I’m 56 and the Police Act says you could work until you’re 60, and the Pension Act says 65.”

What is Paul Rolle’s relationship with the present government?

Anthony Ferguson was succeeded by Paul Rolle.

Rolle was appointed Commissioner by the Free National Movement after the retirement of Anthony Ferguson.

During his tenure, he has faced public criticism for his management of the COVID19 rules which many deemed restrictive and unfair. Some street vendors like the Coconut boys were hauled before the courts for violating COVID-19 measures. It cast a negative light on the force at a time when many Bahamians were struggling to cope financially.

In addition, the killing of 6 men at once after their release from police custody and he labelling them as idiots, has caused mounting criticism.

When a new government was elected in September, the Progressive Liberal Party brought back senior officers sent on early retirement by the FNM, one being Fernander who the PLP later appointed deputy to Rolle.

What does his retirement mean for crime?

Rolle’s announcement comes at a sensitive time for the Bahamas when crime is surging as the country reopens its economy. Multiple murders a day and brazen shootings are on the rise and calls for a new approach to policing are becoming louder.

Rolle came up through the ranks of the police force with little street experience and more administrative experience. The opposite is true for Fernander who once a victim of crime when he escaped a near death experience during a robbery. He has risen within the ranks with the knowledge and experience necessary to deal with gangs and violent crimes.


Photo credit: Eye Witness News


Beaches and Park Report is a Political Distraction. Where’s the Transparency in the Carnival Debacle?

An exuberant Press Secretary Clint Watson was at it again on Friday, allegedly releasing, “jaw-dropping” details on reported irregularities that took place in the Public Parks and Beaches Authority.

In his teaser, Watson said, the audit report was “so jaw-dropping, that we decided to immediately release the full report so that the Bahamian people can see for themselves how their money has been spent,” under the former administration.

This is one day after the government again denied the application for the operation of the Christmas Carnival on Fort Charlotte. It denied having anything to do with allowing the rides in the country at a time when the country is fighting the pandemic, and permitting it to set up on the public park. Until Senator Maxine Seymour tabled a letter showing the granting of permission from the  Ministry of Finance to the PLP, to allow the carnival company to import equipment into the country.

Questions still remain as to the transactions. Details are still missing. The government has not yet admitted that its party gave the permission. We still don’t know what protocols the Carnival company did not meet, yet they were approved to enter the country.

Where is the transparency on the carnival issue which later became a debacle because the public was not given a direct answer on its dealings?

Instead of releasing the “jaw-dropping” details on that, the government decides to release “jaw-dropping” reports of “problems and irregularities” under the former administration.

It is a clear attempt to conceal their dealings, not address the pertinent issue at hand and change the conversation, hoping the public forgets.