NASSAU, The Bahamas (CMC)— Speaker of the House of Assembly Halson Moultrie resigned from the Free National Movement (FNM) on Thursday, citing a “divergent and untenable” relationship with the ruling party, but said he would remain in his position as Speaker for now.
In a letter addressed to FNM Secretary-General Sefrent Rolle, Moultrie stated: “Today, with immediate effect, I formally end my seven-month constructive withdrawal from the Free National Movement by tendering my resignation, thereby cancelling my membership.
“My patriotic and not-to-be-compromised convictions on fundamental essentials of democracy and good governance – such as the separation of powers, autonomy and independence of the legislature and judiciary, accountability and transparency, freedom of information and respect for the constitution – make my continued affiliation and association divergent and untenable.”
Moultrie added, however, that he was not planning to step down as Speaker of the House.
“As the member of Parliament for the Nassau Villae constituency, and 54th Speaker of the House of Assembly, it is my intent to continue to serve, to the best of my abilities, as an independent member until the House is either prorogued for the purpose of electing a new speaker or dissolved for general elections,” he said.
Under Article 50 (2) of the Constitution of the Bahamas, the Speaker remains in place until he ceases to be a member of the House due to a dissolution of Parliament, if he is appointed as a minister or parliamentary secretary, or if he resigns his office.
Moultrie indicated, in his letter to Rolle, that he still has to make a decision about offering himself as a candidate in future elections.
“I shall consult with my wife and my fellow constituents before making a determination and decision on our political relationship and political future,” he said.
In recent months, Moultrie has clashed with the government on several issues, including the separation of powers of the executive and the legislature and what he called the unfit nature of the speaker’s office and its safety concerns. Last September, he said he could not continue to support the rules and mandate of Parliament that allow the executive to pull the institution along “like a dinghy boat and deny the constitutional rights of some members”.
His resignation brings to three the number of people who have left the FNM since the party won the 2017 general elections. In 2019, Centreville MP Reece Chipman and Golden Isles MP Vaughn Miller resigned within three months of each other.
The FNM now has 32 of the 39 seats in Parliament.
Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis, commenting on the latest resignation, said it “presents increasing evidence that the FNM is imploding, as the wheels are falling off one by one under the weight of what appears to be increasing division in the party’s leadership ranks”.