RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Bahamians will go to the polls on September 16, eight months earlier than constitutionally mandated, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis announced Thursday, August 19, emphasizing that whoever emerges victorious will have to make key decisions on the fight against the pandemic.
After reading a proclamation by Governor-General Cornelius Smith dissolving Parliament, Minnis said it is time for the people to choose who will form the next Bahamian government, after deciding to bring forward the elections to facilitate the formation of a new executive to end an unstable legislature characterized by controversy and resignations.
The Bahamas is an independent nation that shares historical ties with the United Kingdom. As head of state, the British monarch appoints her representative in the archipelago, the governor-general.
Meanwhile, executive power is exercised by the government headed by the Prime Minister, and legislative power is exercised by a two-chamber Parliament.
The current term does not constitutionally expire until May 2022, five years after Minnis’ Free National Movement (FNM) defeated the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) in the last election, winning 35 of the 39 seats in Parliament.
The Prime Minister said the elections come in the midst of “the worst public health crisis in our modern history,” referring to the Covid-19 pandemic.
He indicated that his administration had secured more than 550,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines to date. “Our goal is for the Bahamas to be one of the most vaccinated small islands of developing countries in the world,” he said.
“It is time for the people to choose who they want to lead them as we move towards vaccinating all Bahamians,” he stressed.
Prime Minister Minnis said the next government would have to make key decisions on enacting post-pandemic public health and economic growth legislation. “A new mandate is needed to ensure that there is a government in place to do this difficult long-term work, as we are reaching a critical inflection point in the pandemic,” he stressed.
With the election date now set, Minnis urged Bahamians to ensure that the country’s long and proud tradition of peaceful elections continues.
“We must discuss issues rigorously and peacefully, contrasting our various visions for the country. In our democratic tradition, the people rule. Their collective wisdom will decide our way forward, their collective wisdom will decide our shared future,” he said.
Prime Minister Minnis further urged political parties to conduct their campaigns in accordance with public health guidelines to ensure that there is no increase in the spread of Covid-19 cases.