MPs in blame game over clash
JAYME C. PINDER
Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: Mar 16, 2017
Golden Isles MP Michael Halkitis yesterday accused Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis of “provoking” an altercation between FNM and Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) supporters in the constituency on Tuesday, then “playing victim”, but Minnis charged that the PLP is obviously desperate.
The heated confrontation occurred as both groups were campaigning in Golden Isles.
Videos and photographs of the incident quickly circulated on social media.
Though there were no physical altercations, both parties argued and resorted to name calling and profanity.
Halkitis posted to his Facebook page: “Yesterday I led another walkabout in the Golden Isles constituency as I have been doing regularly.
“Knowing that Hubert Minnis and his new candidate were also doing a walkabout, I deliberately led my group west on Carmichael Road; away from my headquarters and away from the FNM headquarters to avoid any possibility of our groups clashing.
“Mr. Minnis decided that in this politically charged atmosphere he should lead his group past my headquarters, where some of his supporters proceeded to verbally taunt some young men in the area. A heated verbal altercation resulted.
“It was unfortunate, but blame should be placed squarely on the shoulders of Hubert Minnis for provoking the altercation and then playing victim.”
But Minnis told a different story.
“The Golden Isles team was doing a walkabout,” the Killarney MP said outside the House of Assembly.
“It is not unusual for me to accompany the various candidates in their areas.
“We were doing our usual walkabout in a very friendly manner and a group of PLP individuals came from a different direction and they started to taunt us.
“We said and I said distinctly that we must remain focused; we have a job to do and we must continue on our route.
“Well they started shouting and taunting, and we totally ignored them.
He said, “That was a sign of desperation.
“The PLP knows and the ground team knows they’re getting beat.
“When you’re desperate, you try to confront the opponent, you try to irritate them and hope they would come off course.”
A video on social media showed a group of FNMs walking in the Carmichael Road area when a truck of PLP supporters pulled up and began shouting at the FNM.
The PLP supporters asked the FNMs to leave and told Minnis that he could not even run his own party.
The FNM supporters claimed Halkitis was there and did nothing, but Halkitis denied being present.
He told reporters yesterday Minnis should have exercised better judgment and not allow his team to come so close to the PLP headquarters or campaign team.
“I’ve ran in 2002, 2007, 2012 and now 2017, and this has never happened,” Halkitis told reporters.
“When [Hubert Ingraham] was the leader of the FNM, I ran against Mr. Frank Watson, I ran twice against Charles Maynard and then Kenyatta Gibson was a candidate, and we’ve never had this sort of confrontation, because, yes, people are free to move about, but you have to have some sort of judgment when you want to bring these diverse groups together.
“It’s unfortunate that it happened.
“I’m grateful that it didn’t turn into a physical confrontation, but we try to avoid that sort of interaction, because as friendly as you want to be, when you get into this political season, tensions run high and people say things and people answer and it generates into what we saw.
“That in no way represents the sort of campaign that we have ever ran.
“This is the first incident of this kind that we have had.
“We hope it never happens again and we will do our part.”