Amid rumbling and rumors regarding possible by-election candidates for West Grand Bahama and Bimini, Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Fred Mitchell released a statement yesterday, advising that the party will not be accepting any such expressions of interest so soon after the death of Obie Wilchcombe, who was the member of Parliament for West Grand Bahama and Bimini.
“Our nation has lost a giant in the person of the Hon. Obie Wilchcombe, minister of social services, information and broadcasting and member of Parliament for West Grand Bahama and Bimini,” Mitchell said.
“In short order, the government of The Bahamas is expected to make a formal announcement on official funeral arrangements.
“As the country is in mourning, it is inappropriate for the Progressive Liberal Party to be accepting any requests or expressions of interest for candidacy before the funeral or any formal processes in parliamentary law have begun.
“Minister Wilchcombe has served our nation and party well. We remain focused on honoring his contributions and legacy.”
Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Michael Pintard also said yesterday that his party is not engaging in any public discussions about the inevitable by-election and is instead reflecting on the loss of Wilchcombe, 64, who died in Grand Bahama on Monday.
Pintard told The Nassau Guardian that at this time, the party is offering condolences to PLP members, Wilchcombe’s family and those who worked with the MP.
“We’ve set a tone in the organization that people ought to appreciate that there has been a loss of life and [we’ve] encouraged people to have moments of personal reflection,” Pintard said.
He added, “At the appropriate time, we are in a public way, going to address political matters in Grand Bahama in general, in the west in particular. At this point, we are not engaging in those discussions in a public way.”
Wilchcombe’s funeral will take place on October 13 in Grand Bahama, according to his brother Christopher Wilchcombe.
He will be buried next to his father in West End.
Wilchcombe was first elected to Parliament in 2002. Previously, he was a journalist.
Hours after his death on Monday, his body was flown to New Providence. It was taken to Cedar Crest Funeral Home yesterday morning.
It will be returned to Grand Bahama after he lies in state in the House of Assembly in Nassau.
In the September 2021 election, Wilchcombe secured 53 percent of the 3,856 votes cast in West Grand Bahama and Bimini.
The FNM’s Pakesia Parker-Edgecombe got 38 percent.
In 2017, she received 52 percent of the votes to Wilchcombe’s 47 percent.
On the matter of by-elections, Article 67 of the constitution states that whenever any person vacates his seat as a member of the House of Assembly for any reason other than a dissolution of Parliament, the governor general shall issue a writ for the election of a member to fill the vacancy and such election shall be held within 60 days after the occurrence of the vacancy.
Wilchcombe’s death came as the Davis administration was preparing for the Opening of Parliament, set for October 4.
He was leader of government business in the House of Assembly.