27 April 2005
Amid reports that he is facing fierce opposition from within his own party, Free National Movement Leader Tommy Turnquest called a press conference on Tuesday to reassure FNM’s that all is well in the party.
Mr. Turnquest told reporters that he is confident that he has the full support of former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham and that as far as he is aware Mr. Ingraham, despite reports, is not interested in returning as leader of the party.
"We in the FNM will not allow our political opponents to capitalize on make-believe issues in our party," said Mr. Turnquest, who added that he is not troubled by opposition within or outside his party.
"They want desperately to take the focus off their incompetence, ineffectiveness and inefficiency. We must continue to reveal their total ineptitude as a government. The old, pompous, all-for-me nature of the PLP is back and we must resolve to rid our country of this rudderless, incompetent and unfocused government. This is the focus of the FNM – nothing more, nothing less."
The FNM leader called the press conference to respond to a Bahama Journal article published on Monday under the headline "FNM’s Want Tommy Out."
That story revealed that an advisory council of the party headed by former Deputy Prime Minister Frank Watson has advised Mr. Turnquest that there are many FNM’s who want him out and Mr. Ingraham back in as leader.
On Tuesday, Mr. Turnquest refused to discuss the findings of the advisory council with reporters, saying that, "It is unfortunate that some people seem to have taken [the appointment of the council] as a sign of crisis in leadership in our party."
He said, "As the duly elected leader of the FNM, I am working to ready our party to compete fiercely in the next general election. On a daily basis, I am meeting with persons who have expressed a desire to be an FNM candidate in the next election, a process I hope to complete very soon so that we might begin to put them in place."
Mr. Turnquest also urged party supporters to "be strong so we may finish strong."
"The work that we must do is crucial," he said. "Our nation is in the hands of incompetent drifters. They have failed to live up to many of their promises. Our people are hurting. Our country is directionless. We are being misled by those who govern us. They are working to enrich themselves, their families and their cronies."
Mr. Turnquest was flanked by his deputy, Sidney Collie; FNM Chairman Carl Bethel; Montagu MP Brent Symonette; Senator Tanya McCartney; and Loretta Butler Turner, who was a candidate in the last general election.
Leader of the Official Opposition Alvin Smith and a handful of FNM supporters also showed up to support the FNM leader.
There was, however, no member of the advisory council present at the press conference.
On Monday, former FNM Cabinet Minister Tennyson Wells, now an independent MP, told The Bahama Journal that the fact that Mr. Turnquest had to appoint that council indicates that the party is in "disarray."
But Mr. Turnquest said the FNM has never been more united.
When asked whether he had an image problem, he said that he had no idea what it means to have an image problem.
Mr. Wells has said that the key problem with Mr. Turnquest is his image and that the very people who supported his bid for leadership in 2000 are the ones trying to overthrow him as leader.
Former Cabinet Minister Algernon Allen, meanwhile, said that there was treachery afoot.
Mr. Turnquest dismissed those statements.
"In May 2002, I sat at this very table and offered my resignation to the highest authority in his party," Mr. Turnquest said at the press conference at FNM headquarters. "I was asked to remain until the next national convention which I did. I then offered myself for leadership and I was elected as leader.
"I really can do no more than that, but if I continue to look over my shoulder or behind my back, I’d be constantly focused on that rather the real prize which is ahead and that is defeating the PLP and making sure that we return this country back to where it ought to be."