The political winds of change have blown ferociously in The Bahamas.
Prime Minister Perry Christie’s Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) was tonight forced to concede defeat, after suffering a crushing general election loss and failing to secure a second consecutive term in office.
With exit polls projecting a major win for the opposition Free National Movement of Dr Hubert Minnis and the official count still in progress, the PLP, which lost all five seats on Grand Bahama, wasted no time in accepting the will of the electorate.
Party Chairman Bradley Roberts delivered his concession speech around 8 p.m. Bahamas time (9 p.m. Barbados time) from the PLP’s headquarters, telling state-run ZNS Television the party would now have to regroup and carry out a thorough assessment of what went wrong.
About an hour later, Christie issued the following statement to the media:
“I called Dr Hubert Minnis earlier this evening to congratulate him on his party’s victory. I understand as perhaps few others the challenges that await Dr Minnis and I wish him only success on behalf of our nation. He has my full support for a full transition.
“It has been an honour and a privilege to serve as the prime minister of this great nation. I want to express my deepest gratitude to the Bahamian people for that opportunity. To those who served alongside me, I thanked them for their dedication to our shared ideals. May God bless us all and may God bless the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.”
The mood tonight in the PLP camp was the complete opposite to that in the FNM camp, where thousands of jubilant supporters, decked out in the party’s colour of red, gathered in the capital where Minnis was expected to address a victory rally.
The PLP and the FNM have dominated political life in the Bahamas since it won independence from Britain in 1973.