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Where does the opposition coalition go from here?

Published: Jan 11, 2017

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On the 50th anniversary of majority rule there were dueling marches. The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), the organization that was at the front of the effort to end minority rule, led a group. The newly formed organization, We March, led another. Thousands attended both marches. That was expected from the PLP side. It is the oldest party in the country. It has won eight elections. The thousands who attended with We March were a pleasant surprise.

Attorney Ranard Henfield is the founder of We March. He was not well known before this. That his first march last November, seemingly organized as a lark, could morph into what we saw yesterday says something about the mood of the country.

Henfield should be commended for what he has helped organize. But this is not all about him. What we are seeing in these street demonstrations is the desire of the Bahamian people to rid themselves of Perry Christie and his misrule. We as a people face high crime rates; high unemployment; recession; overly priced utilities with unreliable service; a poor education system; high taxes; and the unfair disbursal of Crown and state land. A sense of hopelessness hangs over our archipelago.

If Christie is returned to power, things will get worse. He has abandoned concern for The Bahamas and its people. He wants power. He wants to be prime minister for life.

Confronted with deteriorating conditions, having to count pennies at the grocery store just to buy something to eat, having to take children out of private school because the money has run out, having to live without electricity because there is nothing to pay the bills, Bahamians are showing their frustration.

We are not an activist people. We are not daring when it comes to challenging the political establishment. That all those people marched yesterday, not directed by a political party, should let the PLP know a force is building against it. The question now is: What is next?

We are likely to have a general election in four months. That’s soon. The opposition coalition has fractured several times the past four and a half years. There is now Dr. Hubert Minnis and the Free National Movement (FNM); Branville McCartney and the Democratic National Alliance (DNA); Greg Moss and the United People’s Movement (UPM); and Loretta Butler-Turner and whatever she is trying to do.

We truly believe an overwhelming majority of Bahamians want Christie gone from politics for good. The problem is they don’t know who to vote for to make that happen.

What has damned the opposition forces this term is ego. All the leaders of the various factions want to be prime minister. They find it difficult to work with others. They feel threatened by anyone who is also ambitious. Rather than teams coming together for the greater good of the country in order to oust Christie, “little emperors” keep breaking off to do their own thing in order to satisfy a narcissism that overrides their patriotism.

If the PLP and Christie are to be removed, an opposition voice must emerge from the noise. This voice needs to connect with the people who want change. They need to know that this voice, this party, is the viable path to the restoration of good governance.

We are happy that Bahamians are marching. We are happy that Bahamians are upset at how our country is being harmed by the worst prime minister in its history. Marching soon will need to give way to voting, however. All those who have inspired the people to hit the streets now need to focus on how to inspire them to vote.


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