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OBA leadership contenders seek to avoid clash

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One Bermuda Alliance leadership contenders are said to be in talks over potential compromise deals to avoid any ugly battles at their first election in two weeks.

Former United Bermuda Party leader Michael Dunkley and former Bermuda Democratic Alliance leader Craig Cannonier remain the front-runners to replace interim leader John Barritt according to sources within the OBA.

But party members are keen to avoid turning September 10’s leadership contest into a clash between those in the ex-UBP camp and those formerly in the BDA, with Senator Dunkley said to be popular with former UBP members, and Senator Cannonier with former BDA members.

Shadow Finance Minister Bob Richards is touted as an outside bet.

Chairman Michael Fahy said the OBA won’t announce the contenders until September 1, and Sen Dunkley, Sen Cannonier and Mr Richards would not comment yesterday.

Sources said a deal could be struck so Sen Dunkley and Sen Cannonier run as a combined ticket for leader and deputy, declaring their support for each other in their speeches.

However, one member said contradictory rumours are circulating that Mr Richards has teamed up with Sen Dunkley, with yet more gossip suggesting Mr Richards is in league with Sen Cannonier.

“These guys are keeping their cards so close to their chest, we’re hearing all sorts of talk about which one has struck a deal with the other,” said that member.

“In some cases, people put too much thought into who is leader. It’s not so much who the leader is, it’s the team they form around themselves.

“My concern is that we have a nice clean competition for leader and we come out with a productive team.”

Sen Dunkley has consistently polled well in recent months, but members pointed out victory would come down to whoever gets more supporters in the room on the night.

Another member said: “More than likely you will find OBA members would support Craig but I wouldn’t be surprised to see UBP members looking for change as well. Michael does get quite a bit of support though.

“I’m hoping to avoid a contentious head-to-head contest as that’s not the way we want to move forward as a fledgling party.”

Mr Fahy would not comment on runners and riders but said: “We are looking for people to put their names forward.

“This is not an inside deal. It’s open to any member of the OBA and is not restricted to MPs or Senators.”

The OBA has more than 350 members, said Mr Fahy.

Mr Barritt, a long-serving former UBP MP, took the interim position on the condition he would not challenge at next month’s contest.

If Sen Dunkley or Sen Cannonier is successful, Mr Barritt will resign as an MP so the new leader can aim to get a seat in the House of Assembly via a by-election in the old UBP stronghold of Devonshire South Central.

Anyone wanting to challenge as leader or deputy must submit the supporting signatures of at least two MPs and/or Senators and 15 members of the OBA. Signatories must be on the electoral roll.

Leader or deputy leader contenders are not permitted to put themselves forward for both positions. Each challenger will make a 12-minute speech and the winner must get at least 50 percent of the vote.

The election takes place at the Fairmont Southampton from 7.30pm on September 10.

Useful website: www.oba.bm

Craig Cannonier (Photo by Akil Simmons) August 16,2011
Michael Dunkley(Photo by Akil Simmons) August 16,2011
Bob Richards(Photo by Akil Simmons) August 16,2011

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Published August 26, 2011 at 10:21 am (Updated August 26, 2011 at 10:21 am)

OBA leadership contenders seek to avoid clash

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