After a dramatic night at the Free National Movement (FNM) convention, Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner and her running mate Dr. Duane Sands confirmed around 2 a.m. to The Nassau Guardian that they have withdrawn from the leadership and deputy leadership races respectively, that were set to take place today.
“We came in as a team and I think what transpired tonight as I was ascending the stage…What happened just did not start tonight.”
She said she had initially withheld $50,000 of the $100,000 she agreed to pay to help cover the convention costs “because of my reservation with the process”.
“When I met with them (planning team) for the very first time I still was not satisfied and I did not wish to jeopardize the process.
“In the interest of the party and in the interest of democracy it seems this process was hijacked and so at the end of the day I do not wish to validate that process.”
Butler-Turner was huddled with advisors into the early morning and promised to give a fuller explanation on her decision to withdraw.
Late last night, she came under fire at the party’s convention when some supporters of Dr. Hubert Minnis, the current leader, became agitated that her speech was stretching near the 11 o’clock hour, almost an hour after she started to speak.
Toward the end of her speech, Butler-Turner called for candidates to join her and her running mate Dr. Duane Sands on stage, but only Sands went up.
Minnis supporters shouted “Roc Wit Doc”, drowning her out.
The keynote address was delivered by FNM Deputy Leader Peter Turnquest, who appeared angered by Butler-Turner’s lengthy remarks.
“It’s a matter of respect. We can disagree with each other. We can take different positions. We have to remember that at the end of the day we have nothing if we don’t respect each other,” Turnquest told The Guardian.
“Everyone had a defined period to speak. We had people who were deliberately running long.”
Turnquest said Butler-Turner was trying to “run out the time”. He called the situation “ridiculous”.
The deputy leader did not end up speaking until around 11 p.m.
By that time, many delegates had left the hall.
Outside the Melia, angry supporters of Butler-Turner and Minnis exchanged words, with some predicting that there will be a split in the party.
The drama unfolded one night after Minnis appealed for unity.
In her speech, as she made her final appeal to delegates to give her an opportunity to lead the FNM, she also admitted the FNM has experienced a period of division, which she regrets, but she pledged that as leader she would unite and heal the party, and be a champion for all Bahamians.
“At times I have not lived up [to] the spirit of our enduring motto,” said Butler-Turner.
“For this, I offer regret and the promise to help heal and unify our party.
“Will you join me in this effort?
“Let us all pledge to do better in living up to our values and working for the greater cause of unity.
“If you elect me as your leader I pledge to unify our party in word and deed.
“I pledge also to fight for Bahamians everywhere.
“I want to be a champion and fighter for all Bahamians.
“I will fight for what is right and just and fair.”
Butler-Turner was among the six MPs who threatened to write the governor general to have Dr. Hubert Minnis removed as leader of the official opposition if an early convention was not called.
Butler-Turner recently claimed Minnis has pledged to “deal with” the MPs in question.
However, Minnis declared on Wednesday night that the FNM will not fracture when it comes out of convention this week.
In her speech last night, Butler-Turner thanked former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham for bringing her into the arena of public service.
She thanked Minnis for the service he has given to the FNM.
“He and I may not always see eye to eye, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t see and appreciate that he has poured his heart into our party,” she said.
“Our fight, indeed all of our energies in the coming year, must be to bring genuine help and hope to the Bahamian people.
“Whether it be Loretta or Hubert [Minnis], Peter [Turnquest] or Duane [Sands], Sidney [Collie] or Alvin [Smith], and right on down the ballot paper, we must all keep the fire burning in our souls.
“Let us keep the fire of love, unity and hope burning in our souls and heart as we move forward, together.”
However, Butler-Turner insisted in that speech that the FNM needs an inspiring leader “who will stay on the battlefield” and look out for all FNMs even during hard times.
She said she will be a champion for all Bahamians and fight for what is “right, just and fair”.