March 11, 2002

Bahamas sets elections for May 2

                 NASSAU, Bahamas, March 11 (Reuters) -- Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert
                 Ingraham, who has promised to step down after leading the Atlantic island
                 nation for 10 years, has set general elections for May 2, the government said
                 on Monday.

                 Ingraham was first elected prime minister in 1992 and was re-elected to a second
                 five-year term in 1997 but had vowed he would not serve more than two terms.

                 His successor to lead the independent Commonwealth nation of 302,000 people will
                 be either Tourism Minister Tommy Turnquest, the leader-designate of the
                 incumbent Free National Movement, or Perry Christie, leader of the main opposition
                 Progressive Liberal party.

                 Bahamian voters, who must register by April 2, will elect 40 representatives to
                 serve terms of up to five years in the House of Assembly, the lower house of
                 Parliament in the former British colony.

                 The leader of the majority party becomes prime minister, and the new House
                 members will nominate 16 senators.

                 Ingraham's pledge to step down after two terms was based on his conclusion that
                 his predecessor, the late Sir Lynden Pindling, stayed too long in office.

                 Pindling, the PLP leader, was first elected in 1967, the Bahamas' first elections with
                 universal adult suffrage, and led the nation for 25 years. But Pindling was unseated
                 in 1992 amid widespread allegations of corruption.

                 Ingraham said he leaves office with the conviction that he gave his best in the
                 service of the Bahamian people.

                 "Today, the Bahamas is a different and a better place than it was in 1992, and I am
                 gratified to have guided the remarkable transformation of our country," Ingraham
                 said in a nationally broadcast address on Sunday.

                 "I have always accepted the convention of our parliamentary system that, whatever
                 might have been done in the name of the government, the buck stopped with the
                 prime minister," he said.

                  Copyright 2002 Reuters. All rights reserved.