PM to extend emergency period to December
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis is expected to table a resolution in the House of Assembly today to extend the state of emergency to December, maintaining the power that allows him to shut down businesses and lockdown Bahamians at a moments notice.
In September, Minnis moved a resolution to extend the state of emergency to October 31. However, that is set to expire within days.
Insiders close to the Competent Authority also told the Gallery that acting upon Minnis’ instructions, Governor General C. A. Smith will declare a new state of emergency in January 2021, to take us into June 2021. This will give Minnis free rein to continue to implement draconian emergency orders.
Though the orders were initially aimed at halting the spread of COVID-19, critics argue that Minnis has allowed this boundless power bestowed upon one man to get to his head, opening and closing beaches, gyms, restaurants, stores and churches with the snap of a finger, putting tens of thousands of Bahamians out of work.
FNM MP Dr. Duane Sands has also criticized the many extensions.
“There has been no specific reason to continue the unfettered power, not just of the executive, but of the competent authority,” according to Sands.
He added, “What we have done is to weaken the power of the 39 to provide checks on the one. We have seized the power of the people, possibly, and this requires legal consultation, in defiance of the constitution. We have concentrated it into one person.”
Minnis and Attorney General Carl Bethel manipulated Bahamians in June when they pretended to make a mess of extending the state of emergency, resulting in the GG declaring a new state of emergency.
On June 29, Minnis gave notice of a resolution to extend the initial state of emergency from June 29 to July 31. The government planned to debate the extension the following day.
However, the emergency proclamation expired at midnight.
As a result, Governor General C.A. Smith had to declare a new state of emergency on the evening of June 29.
Bethel took full responsibility for the big blunder but inquiring minds question whether government intentionally allowed the declaration to lapse in order to restart the six-month extension period provided under Article 29 of the Constitution with parliamentary approval. This meant the state of emergency is now in place for the remainder of the year, allowing the competent authority to do as he sees fit.