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By NAN Staff Writer

News Americas, NASSAU, Bahamas, Fri. Aug. 20, 2021: Just weeks after the election of a new government in St. Lucia, another Caribbean country is heading to the polls.

Bahamians will go to the polls on September 16th, eight months before a general election is constitutionally due, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced Thursday.

PM Minnis stressed that whoever emerges victorious will have to make key decisions on the way forward in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Governor-General Sir Cornelius Smith dissolved Parliament Thursday to prepare for the election, which are are not constitutionally due until May 2022.

Minnis’ Free National Movement (FNM) defeated the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) in the last polls, winning 35 of the 39 seats in Parliament.

But on Thursday, he said the election was coming amidst “the worst public health crisis in our modern history,” referring to the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected the entire globe and resulted in the deaths of millions.

With the election date now set, Dr. Minnis urged Bahamians to ensure that the country’s long and proud tradition of peaceful elections continues, and he urged political parties to conduct their campaigns in keeping with public health guidelines to ensure there is no further spread of the deadly COVID-19.

The Bahamas has reported 16,723 cases of COVID-19 and 313 deaths. In 2020, GDP decreased by an estimated 16.3 percent due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the unemployment rate is over 25 percent. However, GDP is expected to pick up to 2 percent in 2021 and 8.5 percent in 2022, subject to the post-pandemic global economic recovery according to IMF forecasts.

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