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2005-10-06 16:08:51

Bahamas: Political Crisis

With both parties in crisis, voters left with no choice.

If it weren't so serious it would be laughable. With a general election less than two years away, the country's two major political parties are caught up in a leadership crisis.

You might say they are stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea. On the one hand, the Opposition Free National Movement is contemplating whether to reinstate as its Leader a man who won't listen to anyone and is minded to act only on what he wants, while the governing Progressive Liberal Party is stuck with a Leader who listens to everyone and is not minded to act on anything.

Three years in the political wilderness has done nothing to temper former Prime Minister Hubert lngraham's intolerance for anyone else's views other than his own.

He is now attempting to engineer his return as Leader of the FNM by forcing aside all challengers so as to avoid a convention floor fight in November. He is said to be abetted in this Machiavellian plot by the white moneyed element of the party, which is convinced that the FNM can only regain the government if the current leader, Tommy Turnquest, is replaced by Mr Ingraham.

And part of the deal reportedly cut by the ex-PM would allow him to hand-pick the FNM candidates he wants to run in each constituency, irrespective of the wishes of the constituents.

Prime Minister Perry Christie has, by comparison, positioned himself at the other end of the pendulum swing from Mr Ingraham. Whereas the former PM allowed his Ministers no latitude, Mr Christie has left them free to do as they please to the extent that the government has at times appeared to be sending mixed signals on important national issues.

Mr Christie's failure to reorder his Cabinet so as to get rid of the deadbeats and improve its efficiency level has left the electorate with the impression of an administration totally out of its depth.

For the Bahamian voter scanning the political landscape, deciding which of the two parties to support in the next election is like choosing between the frying pan and the fire, neither of which offers a comfortable alternative.

This is not a healthy state of affairs at a time when the country could be facing some heavy wash from the devastating impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on the U.S. economy.

What the country needs is a fresh approach to governance and a Prime Minister who is willing to listen but also prepared to act having weighed the pros and cons. A fusion of Mr Christie and Mr Ingraham would work well he or she could be found.

By: Nicki Kelly, The Punch

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