FNM PRESS STATEMENT: The PLP’s latest attack on the integrity of the Parliamentary Registrar is the latest gimmick by a desperate and frustrated party. Despite their attempts to disguise their massive incompetence in office and reckless irresponsibility in Opposition, the facts speak louder than the PLP’s empty words.
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham stated that he found the PLP’s statement on the Parliamentary Registrar, “cowardly and unmanly”. He noted that though issued in the name of the PLP, that Opposition Leader, Perry Christie had to accept full responsibility for the distortions in the release.
The Prime Minister observed that Parliamentary Commissioner Bethel was first appointed to the Parliamentary Registration Department under a PLP Administration. Mr. Bethel held the position of Parliamentary Commissioner in 1997 when the FNM was re-elected to office, in 2002 when the PLP was elected, and remained in the post during the 2007 General Election, when the FNM was reelected.
Mr. Ingraham emphasized that the PLP had no prior objections to Mr. Bethel. He said that the Leader of the Opposition who routinely raises matters of interest and concern to his Party in discussions with him had never raised any concern about Mr. Bethel. He noted that the PLP had not sought to replace Mr. Bethel ahead of the 2007 General Election, which was organized and run on their watch.
Mr. Ingraham lamented that it was cowardly and unmanly for Mr. Christie to attempt to shift blame for his inaction, laziness and failures in office to a dedicated public servant.
It was Mr. Christie who was solely responsible for disregarding and ignoring the constitutional requirements regarding the timely appointment of the Boundaries Commission.
It was Mr. Christie and his party who were late-again in redrawing constituency boundaries. It was Mr. Christie and the PLP who were late in presenting the Commission’s Report to Parliament.
The reality is that in a 15 year period during which three general elections were held, the only time that confusion developed with the Parliamentary Registrar was on Mr. Christie’s watch. Still, the PLP continue to blame Commissioner Bethel for the confusion in the preparation of the 2007 Parliamentary Register.
The Prime Minister reminds Mr. Christie, who should know better, that the Parliamentary Commissioner has no ability to influence the timing of the appointment of the Boundaries Committee or the redrawing of the boundaries or of the Commission’s Report to Parliament.
This was not a single failure by Mr. Christie and his incompetent cabinet. It was three strikes against the integrity of our electoral system.
The lateness of each of these was in the control of the hapless and hopeless PLP Government. They are solely responsible for the last minute and chaotic changes rushed into place just a few short weeks before the Bahamian electorate went to the polls to exercise their democratic franchise.
The Prime Minister is not surprised that notwithstanding the posturing by the PLP, that neither the Leader of the Opposition nor his party hierarchy has ever offered recommendations on updating the registration process to the Bahamian people.
The Prime Minister reiterated his confidence in the Commissioner and his staff. He further stated that the Bahamian Parliamentary electoral process was time honoured and had served The Bahamas well.
He did not believe it appropriate for political parties to attack the civil servants charged with overseeing the electoral process. Instead, he urged bipartisan cooperation in reforming and ensuring a transparent and smooth process.
Finally, the Prime Minister said that if the PLP believe that they left a clean Parliamentary Register in place in 2007, the FNM would be happy to hold new elections on the existing Register.