Bahamians go to the polls
NASSAU, Bahamas – An estimated 194 524 Bahamians are registered to vote in Thursday’s general election to elect a new government in this archipelago with the two main political parties confident of gaining control of the 39 seat-Parliament.
In the last election, the ruling Free National Movement (FNM) headed by Prime Minister Hubert Minnis won 35 seats while the main opposition Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) now headed by attorney Phillip “Brave” Davis won the remaining four seats.
Bahamas is the ninth Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country to be staging a general election since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic was declared in March last year. All but two of the ruling parties have been successful in regaining office.
Medical officials have been critical of the two main political parties for staging rallies and motorcades during their campaign in a country where the pandemic has been blamed for 469 deaths and 19 795 infections since March last year.
The Medical Association of The Bahamas (MAB) had during the campaign expressed “grave concern” that various political activities leading up to the election could turn out to be “super spreaders” of the virus.
The Bahamas Nurses Union (BNU) President Amancha Williams also warned this week that political parties are being disobedient by holding rallies and motorcades.
The government said on Monday that persons who have been placed in quarantine as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will be allowed to cast their vote in the general elections on Thursday.
But the director of the National HIV/AIDS and Infectious Diseases Programme at the Ministry of Health, Dr Nikkiah Forbes, warned that there could be further spread of the COVID-19 if people, who are in quarantine are allowed to vote at the polls.
Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police Ashton Greenslade warned that COVID-19 protocols will be strictly enforced and encouraged the public to adhere to all health and safety protocols.
He said an estimated 700 police officers will be working at polling sites, assisted by COVID-19 ambassadors and members of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force.
“We’ll be on the lookout for any breach of the law and where we find it happening, we’ll take action. We have our police stations on the site where we have a police diary and we have sufficient officers to deal with any breach,” ACP Greenslade said. The country is also under a curfew.
In the run-up to the voting, both Prime Minister Minnis and Opposition Leader Davis were urging voters to commit to their respective parties.
“You cannot trust ‘Brave’ Davis and the PLP with your future. Because you cannot trust ‘Brave’ Davis and the PLP with your future, I am asking you to vote FNM!” Minnis said.
But Davis is warning that the FNM, if re-elected would raise taxes.
“We have been told by credible sources that the government called a snap election because their back is against the wall with the country’s creditors; they’re ready to raise your taxes, but they ain’ plannin’ to tell you that until after you vote,” Davis said.
Polling stations will close at 6.00 pm (local time). The polls are being monitored by observer teams from the CARICOM and the Organisation of American States (OAS). (CMC)