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BDA members split on joining UBP sources

Bermuda Democratic Alliance members remain split on their amalgamation with the United Bermuda Party as discussions between the two parties continue.

Many BDA members particularly those not previously in the UBP are said to want further assurances the new group would be distanced from the legacy of the party which ruled for 30 years until 1998.

But others are said to be keen to merge as quickly as possible to form an Opposition which can stop the Progressive Labour Party sweeping to a huge victory at the next General Election.

Either way, yesterday, even BDA members opposed to the merger conceded it's only a matter of time before it happens.

Negotiations have continued throughout the course of the Budget debate, and one UBP member said his party had set the BDA a deadline of March 31 for a decision; a BDA source denied that suggestion.

One BDA source said: “There are two agendas. Some members are keen to get on with it, but others are not so keen. They need to be shown that this isn't just going to be a case of those guys going back to the UBP.

“They say, even though it seems like it's going to happen anyway, it still has to be done right.”

Another source said talks had been going so well an official announcement over a merger is imminent.

The major sticking point has been over the role of the UBP's top level executive. The UBP is said to want its greater number of MPs to be reflected in a larger representation at the top of the new party.

But some in the BDA say too many UBP figures in high positions would leave the group open to accusations that it's just another version of the old UBP.

Many BDA members want the UBP to issue a statement accepting its contribution to Bermuda's racial divide, although that issue is not said to be a major stumbling block.

Several people who entered politics to join the newly formed BDA early last year have moved away from the front line since the merger became likely, including Alex DeCouto, Dueane Dill and Kristin White.

Leader Craig Cannonier, another who was outside politics until last year, is thought to be strongly opposed to being part of a “new UBP” group.

However, some BDA members would like Mr Cannonier to lead the new party; UBP Senator Michael Dunkley has been touted as an alternative, with MP John Barritt the likely interim leader as neither Mr Cannonier nor Sen Dunkley are currently MPs.

The BDA has been represented in meetings by Mr Cannonier, MPs Mark Pettingill and Shawn Crockwell and chairman Michael Fahy. The UBP has been represented by Mr Barritt, MPs Bob Richards and Grant Gibbons, Sen Dunkley and Senator Jeanne Atherden.

UBP leader Kim Swan has been missing from most of the talks and is said to be extremely unlikely to remain in charge after it happens.

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Published March 17, 2011 at 10:09 am (Updated March 17, 2011 at 10:08 am)

BDA members split on joining UBP sources

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