May 04, 2021
THE Royal Bahamas Defence Force has asked its department heads to prepare "for the possibility of an early General Election" by providing a list of people who will vote in an advanced poll.
The directive was contained in a memo that was signed by Acting Captain Shawn Adderley on April 29, 2021.
RBDF Commodore Raymond King told The Tribune last night that the document was issued in response to a memo the RBDF received from the Parliamentary Registration Department, the department that oversees elections in the country.
The title of the memo is “Request for Listing of RBDF Marines Voting in the Advanced Poll for the Upcoming General Elections.”
It reads: “Be advised that in preparation for the possibility of an early General Election, you are directed to provide a listing of all personnel in your purview voting in the Advanced Poll and forward the same to the Base Executive Officer’s office by Thursday 6 May, 2021.”
“Accordingly, for ease of reference, included in the listing should be the name, rank/rate, pay number, telephone contact and voter’s card number of each individual.”
Commodore King declined to discuss whether this signifies that the country is headed for an early election.
“That was in response to a memo we got from Parliamentary Registration Department,” he said. “It came from Parliamentary Registration Department, through the ministry to my desk. I can’t speak for Parliamentary Registration in all fairness. They should speak to their organisation, why they’re doing what they’re doing.”
“The Defence Force, like other uniform branches, might have people who might be about to be deployed, so we’re seeking to ensure information is captured for those persons who we know may be deployed at some point to ensure those persons are not disenfranchised.”
“Uniform branches usually verify their personnel ahead of the election,” he added.
Commodore King said it was hard to say if such memos are usually issued this far out from the due election date.
“It’s hard to measure,” he said. “Only the parliamentary commissioner can explain his organisation and why he’s doing things the way he is.”
Asked directly about the memo’s reference to an early election, he said: “I can’t remember the contents of the memo that was sent out but it would’ve spoken in like terms to the memo sent from Parliamentary Registration.”
Although speculation about early elections is not unusual in The Bahamas, there has been heightened focus on the possibility of an early election this cycle.
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis, nonetheless, has repeatedly dismissed such talk, even as the governing Free National Movement (FNM) campaigns amid the COVID-19 pandemic and nears full ratification of its candidates.
“Election is due on, I think, May 2022,” he told reporters in November. “That’s what I know, so the election is not due until May 2022. So, they can talk whatever they want to, that’s when it is due.”
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