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As reported by LEANDRA ROLLE of The Tribune

( The interview took place on 5 January 2020 )

PROGRESSIVE Liberal Party Chairman Fred Mitchell said yesterday Bahamians can look forward to soon seeing a “full slate” of PLP candidates as the party expects Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis will call an early election.

 “The schedule is on schedule,” he told reporters outside the PLP’s headquarters, adding that all potential candidates will be confirmed by next month.

 “The process started about a year ago and we expect by the first of February everything to be in place. We had a very dynamic experience in Grand Bahama so all of the potential candidates in Grand Bahama have been interviewed.

 “We expect that we’ll be in Eleuthera next week for two days and that should be the last island I believe. Those people who are interested in running in Eleuthera, we know that the other side already has their paraphernalia, and everything ordered.

 “So, we’re lined up in the same direction because the indications are this man intends to call an election before the next budget and so Bahamians are to be anticipating within the next six months a full slate of candidates, but also a full campaign unfolding.”

Dr Minnis has previously said he is not considering a snap election, noting that his government is focused on saving lives amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, according to the PLP chairman, there are several signs suggesting that the prime minister is already gearing up to go into full campaign mode.

Mr Mitchell also believes the prime minister will call the next general election before the budget.

Asked which indicators have led officials to have this opinion, Senator Mitchell replied: “Well, the Bible tells you to be ready because you never know the hour or the day so that’s the first thing.

 “The party wants to be ready. But from our private intelligence, we know that they’ve ordered their paraphernalia. It’s here. It’s been ordered.

 “They have their slogans. The prime minister is using the pandemic to campaign up and down the country so…now the issue, of course, is the budget is coming up, they’re going to have to cut public spending which may even mean cutting the public service so the idea is to while there is kind of a period of relative calm in this winter period, that they will use this and say look how well we have managed the pandemic, we have saved the nation.

 “We need to continue to be at the wheel – that’s their campaign and they want to do it before the budget takes place because they know that when the budget take place, it’s going to be if not a billion and a half, two billion in borrowing again and cuts in the public service and public spending.

 “And so what you do is you campaign that ‘everything is great, I managed everything great,’ you do it before the budget and then you hope you win and when you win, you just bring down the guillotine and the bitter medicine and say ‘welp, sorry.’”

Former Cabinet minister George Smith, who sits on the PLP’s Candidates Committee, said last year the committee desires to run a fresh slate of candidates in the next election.

This desire is expected to run up against the ambitions of several candidates who lost in 2017 and wish to run again.

Asked about the matter…, Mr Mitchell said he could not say which former PLP MPs will be chosen for candidacy as the Candidates Committee has not made a decision on any of the matters.

Mr Mitchell also addressed reports that the party has not fulfilled its financial obligations from previous campaigns.

 “Well, you know debt is assiduously attacked,” he said. “I’m sure there are still debts outstanding, but we honour our legitimate debts and debt is a thing that you continue to work with all of your life. You’ll never be rid of it and campaigns are expensive. We thank all of our benefactors for allowing us to be able to continue and we’ll work assiduously in trying to settle any outstanding debts. “

Constitutionally, the next election must be held by May 2022