Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said Saturday night he received reports that Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) operatives have allegedly tried to buy votes in a Haitian-Bahamian community with cash stuffed inside t-shirts. Speaking at his party's final rally of the 2012 election season, Ingraham said despite this alleged attempt to sway voters with money, Bahamians of Haitian lineage are going to vote for the Free National Movement (FNM) today.
"There's a deep, underlying and disturbing pattern in the PLP," said Ingraham at the rally at Clifford Park. "While we in the FNM are busy trying to encourage all registered voters to vote and vote early, they are doing their best to try and influence voters. "I got a report, I got many reports, from a Haitian community where some people are giving out yellow shirts with money stuffed in it. One shirt had as much as $600 in it. "But the truth of the matter is Bahamian-Haitians are voting FNM."
Other allegations of bribery during the election campaign have emerged over the past few days. PLP Fox Hill MP Fred Mitchell last week alleged that voters in that constituency were offered repairs to their homes and jobs at Atlantis Resort in exchange for supporting the governing party. PLP Leader Perry Christie has accused the government of seeking to bribe voters with jobs and contracts. On Saturday night, Ingraham again raised the matter of Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) and the connection Christie and his deputy leader, Philip Brave Davis, have had with it.
Christie admitted to The Nassau Guardian several weeks ago that BPC continues to benefit from his advice as a consultant for Davis & Co. A week after the admission, the opposition leader backtracked from that statement and said the relationship was severed some time ago. "Mr. Christie has gone dead quiet when it comes to answering serious questions about his position as an oil lobbyist," Ingraham said. He also touched on crime, a hot button issue during his past five years in office. The country has recorded four murder records in five years under Ingraham's watch, despite tougher laws and increases in resources to the Royal Bahamas Police Force.
Still, Ingraham said his administration has done more to strengthen the fight against crime than the PLP did during its last five-year term in office. "The fight against crime will not be won through slogans, speeches, brochures, dishonest TV ads and billboards," the prime minister said. "If someone cannot lead his own party, he cannot lead on crime." Ingraham said if re-elected, during his first year in office he would lead an economic commission to Brazil to learn about a successful Latin-American youth program called Afro-Reggae.
The program began in grassroots communities in Brazil in response to violence and crime. It offers dance, music, sports and other elements of Brazilian culture to young people living in violent areas.
It's a scheme the prime minister hopes to adopt in The Bahamas if elected for a fourth non-consecutive term. The North Abaco MP, who is seeking re-election to that constituency for the eighth and final time, also laid out his case for why he is the best choice to run the country. "On Monday you have very clear choices on deciding who can best lead this country during these critical times," he said.
"On the one hand there's poor judgment or untested judgment; I offer you good and careful judgment. On the one hand there's failed leadership or untested leadership; I offer you bold, strong and proven leadership." Ingraham also said his next administration would work to install indoor plumbing in homes that need it in the Over-the-Hill community, areas that are considered PLP strongholds.
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