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#386430 - 08/26/10 04:01 AM John Briceño’s leadership of PUP challenged
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John Briceño’s leadership of PUP challenged

In the opposition party, there have been constant challenges to John Briceño’s leadership since he won hands down the leadership of the People’s United Party after its crushing defeat at the national elections in 2008. By and large, the PUP has not closed ranks and the newspaper of what is known as the well financed old guard, has been persistent in its attacks against Briceño. There have been challenges from other quarters but none of the contenders have publicly stepped forward. It is known that over the summer months, there were plenty political manoeuvrings to openly challenge Briceño. On Tuesday night, the powerful northern caucus was joined by fourteen other constituency chairpersons and approved a resolution to endorse his leadership. Notably, the Corozal Southeast constituency held by Florencio Marin Jr. did not show up; the remaining seven northern divisions did, along with the four southern divisions and the west. Interestingly from the City, Fort George, with which he has had an off and on relationship supported the resolution to endorse Briceño and so did Pickstock and Caribbean Shores; none of the divisions from the Southside were present. With twenty-two divisions on his side, the National Executive met in earnest today at Independence Hall where Briceño announced that he was convening the national council. This Saturday morning, the council which is made up of delegates from the thirty-one divisions, will meet and Briceño is expected to garner support for a national convention to consolidate his leadership. Nine other divisions remain undeclared but even if they do not support him, that number is not enough to cause his fall. In the days ahead, will be lining up his ducks and crisscrossing the country to meet with all constituencies before the national convention which as we said, is expected sooner rather than later.

News 5 Belize
Live and let live

#386431 - 08/26/10 04:02 AM Re: John Briceño’s leadership of PUP challenged [Re: Short]
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Leader Briceno Makes Moves To Neutralize Deputy Espat

Will Mark Espat challenge John Briceno for leadership of the PUP? And after news of a snap national convention surfaced today, will he even have time to do so?

Indeed, there are rumblings in the PUP tonight - and alarms that something serious was afoot went off when the party's Communication Director Narda Garcia sent out a most unusual press release today. It states that there was a special meeting of the Northern Caucus last night in Patchakan Village.

But the release makes it clear that not only the northern caucus was there. It states that 14 other chairpersons from constituencies all over the country joined the 9 member Caucus, to support a resolution endorsing the leadership of John Briceno and calling for party unity.

According to the release, those 14 other constituencies include notably, Fort George, all of Corozal, all of Orange Walk, all of Cayo, as well as Pickstock and Caribbean Shores.

The release says that the resolution was unanimously supported by all Caucus Members present and, quote, "received the approval of all other representatives."

The resolution endorses Briceno for a national convention and requests, quote, "that the Party hold its National Convention as early as possible..."

We're naturally wary of such resolutions as the cover of the Northern Caucus has more than once been used to blow political smoke and make bogus endorsements.

We did speak with Belize Rural North hopeful Arthur Saldivar who we know attended the meeting to find out if he voted for any such resolution. He said he left before it was passed. He referred us to Fort George Chairman Henry Charles Usher who could not be reached for comment.

Communications Director Garcia says they got signatures of the members of the southern and caucus who signed unto the resolution and they expect the western caucus to do so tomorrow.

But before the ink could dry, last night's meeting was followed by a National Executive meeting this morning where it was decided that a National Party Council meeting would be called for Saturday. That Party Council meeting will - supposedly - ordain events for the national Convention - rumored to be planned for September 26th.

The PUP is bound by its party constitution to hold a national convention before the end of this year - and it was expected to be held in November.

Political insiders say that Deputy Leader Espat has been rallying support to challenge Briceno's leadership. But he may not have the opportunity because the national convention could be held as soon as late September.

Speaking with Espat this evening, he said he did not attend the meeting of the national executive - and believes that neither did any of the three other deputy leaders. But he said he has serious concerns about the process leading to a national convention in late September.

Espat says he and other, quote "senior members of the party" have asked for an urgent meeting with Briceno where they will urge him not to go through with a late September convention. We'll keep following the story.

Live and let live

#386589 - 08/28/10 11:17 AM Re: John Briceño’s leadership of PUP challenged [Re: Short]
Marty Offline

Briceno's powerplay angers 5 PUP reps

Five elected PUP parliamentarians and PUP chairperson Carolyn Sandiford on their way to confront PUP leader Johnny Briceno.
The passing of a resolution supporting John Briceno’s leadership of the opposition People’s United Party at a PUP Northern Caucus this week in Patchakan, Corozal District, has catapulted the badly fractured PUP back into the national spotlight.

The entire 9 Northern constituencies supported the Patchakan resolution, which was passed with the support of 14 other constituency representatives who endorsed it. It also calls for unity within the party that has been almost invisible on the national stage since their devastating defeat at the polls in 2008.

The Northern caucus vote appears to have been a Briceño ploy to neutralize a serious challenge for the party’s leadership from Deputy Leader Mark Espat, who will probably throw his hat into the ring at the PUP National Convention, which under the PUP Constitution should be held no later than November this year.

The Patchakan resolution reads: “Be it resolved that on the 24th August, 2010, the PUP Northern Caucus met for a special meeting and endorsed the Hon. John Briceno for Party Leader at the upcoming convention of the People’s United Party to be held later this year. Also be it resolved that the Northern Caucus request that the Party hold its National Council as early as possible in an effort to unite to achieve victory in the upcoming elections both at the municipal and national levels.

PUP Communications Director, and Secretary of the Northern Caucus, Narda Garcia told Reporter the Patchakan meeting was held to discuss two items: the upcoming 60th anniversary of the party and unity within the party. For this reason the Northern Caucus invited other constituency representatives.

Briceno loyalists may be emboldened by Patchakan to call for an early National Convention, but Briceno’s leadership appears to have come into sharp criticism from his five fellow elected PUP members of the House of Representatives, who confronted Briceno on the new direction in which he is taking the party at his Belize City office on Thursday afternoon.

Theyexpressed their disappointment at his departure from his promises made to the Party’s National Executive two months ago, when he proposed a series of events to take the Party forward.

Briceno’s announcement of September 26 as the date set for the National Convention, on Positive Vibes Radio, caught the Party’s National Executive off guard. None of the deputy party leaders knew anything about it and even the Party Chairman had no idea of what was coming out of Patchakan.

To hold a National Convention outside the date mandated by the Party Constitution would amount to “a Special Convention,” and would have to be approved by the National Party Council, “and you don’t call a Special National Convention whimsically,” our source said.

Briceno dismissed concerns that he is flaunting the Constitution of the Party and the amended guidelines and the five PUP elected parliamentarians are reserving all options. They may choose to petition the Governor General to have John Briceno removed as the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, because his fellow parliamentarians have lost confidence in his leadership abilities inside the House.

Former PUP cabinet minister, Godfrey Smith has become a serious Internet blogger with his Flashpoint column. He, commenting on the battle lines drawn within the PUP said: “It’s a tempest in a teapot!”

The Reporter

#386709 - 08/30/10 04:38 PM Re: John Briceño’s leadership of PUP challenged [Re: Marty]
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In the Amandala:

“I’m not scared!” - PUP leader John Briceño

The heavyweights inside the Opposition People’s United Party (PUP) are tussling again over a recent move by party leader Johnny Briceño to call an early national convention on Sunday, September 26, in what some party officials see as an unconstitutional maneuver to retain his grip on the PUP’s leadership going into the next municipal elections due by 2012 and general elections due by 2013.

The only other five elected PUP parliamentarians - namely, Fort George area representative Said Musa, Freetown area representative Francis Fonseca, Albert area representative Mark Espat, Lake Independence area representative Cordel Hyde, and Corozal Southeast area representative Florencio Marin, Sr. - along with party chairman, Carolyn Trench-Sandiford, requested an urgent meeting with Briceño today to discuss concerns over the latest developments.

“I immediately agreed. I am not hiding anything,” said Briceño tonight, telling us that the concern of those who called for the meeting was whether the process is in line with the party constitution.

The PUP sent out an official release on Wednesday, August 25, indicating that a special meeting of the Northern Caucus was held the day before, at which 14 other constituency chairpersons were present. Together, they voted unanimously in support of Briceño’s leadership and for party unity, the release claimed.

Who is challenging your leadership, Amandala asked PUP leader, Johnny Briceño.

As of today, Thursday, August 25th, said Briceño, “nobody is challenging [my] leadership.” Nobody has announced that they will, said Briceño.

Why would there be a need for such a resolution, we probed.

Briceño said that the PUP members attending the meeting want everybody to know they are supporting him, and not just him, the entire party leadership.

However, we note that this is not how the official press release read. It specifically stated the endorsement of Briceño as party leader. We understand that one of the main persons rumored to be challenging Briceño in the convention, Albert area representative, Mark Espat, has not formally declared that he would.

Briceño told our newspaper, however, that it is the right and privilege of any party member to vie for leadership, and if somebody from Crique Sarco, Toledo, wants to do so, he or she can.

“It won’t scare me,” said Briceño.

The PUP held a National Executive Meeting on Wednesday, August 25, at which, Briceño said, they discussed the 60th anniversary of the party and announced the desire to have National Party Council meeting on Saturday, August 28, to start talking about the national convention.

When we asked about the date proposed in September, Briceño told us that they have no date yet.

“It all depends on what the National Party Council decides,” the party leader stated.

He added that they have to make sure all things happen under the constitution of the PUP.

Marin’s division, we note, was the only northern caucus constituency not represented at Tuesday’s Caucus meeting. We find it interesting that Musa’s constituency was represented, but by one of his sons, Henry Usher.

Briceño also told us that under the new constitutional reforms approved by the National Party Council, the provisions benefit him and his supporters, as he contends that he has strong support outside Belize City.

We note that whereas only 5 of 13 Belize District constituencies were represented at the Tuesday meeting, all of the constituencies of the other five districts, except for Marin’s, were represented - the two in Toledo, the two in Stann Creek, the six in Cayo, the four in Orange Walk, and three of four in Corozal. This amounts to nearly three-fourths of the constituencies, which, the PUP release said, voted unanimously in support of Briceño - and “party unity.”

Curious about the second aspect of the resolution, we asked Briceño: “Is [party unity] in jeopardy at this point?”

“Absolutely not” he replied.

We understand that contenders should have 30 days to contest elections for party leadership. The list of delegates should be finalized 21 days before and made available to all candidates and publicly posted.

However, speeding up the convention would limit the time any contender who may want to challenge Briceño may have to campaign nationally for support.

We understand that there is still discord over the latest developments, as some believe that Briceño may still want to proceed with holding the meeting in September.

When we contacted Espat, rumored to be one of Briceño’s most likely challengers, to get comment from him, he did not have much to say except: “I feel that the process has to be as transparent as possible; it has to be constitutional and it has to prove that we are worthy of governance.”

The last PUP leadership convention was held in March 2008, months after the PUP took a trouncing in the General Elections and former leader, Said Musa, stepped down. Briceño ascended to leadership after going up against Francis Fonseca.

Claiming that the process was being rigged for Fonseca, Espat withdrew from the race, because of the then refusal to implement voting reforms.

Recently, there has been talk that Said Musa may be poised to return to leadership.

Under Briceño’s leadership, the UDP took another beating at the polls in the recent village council elections, but the party still hopes to be strong enough, by then, to pull off victories in 2012 and 2013.

Live and let live

#386710 - 08/30/10 04:40 PM Re: John Briceño’s leadership of PUP challenged [Re: Short]
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And in the Guardian (UDP newspaper):

Broken Truce - Espat and Johnny war for leadership

In a previously unannounced meeting, the current leader of the PUP, Johnny Briceño, called the troops he believed to be loyal to him to a gathering in Patchacan in the Corozal district on Tuesday. A quick press release followed stating that 22 constituencies were endorsing him as the Pparty Leader in their upcoming National Convention.
It is noteworthy that it was believed that there was some truce within the PUP to endorse Mark Espat as the leader of that political party; however, Tuesday’s meeting proves that Johnny will have none of it. In the wider PUP circles, Johnny is seen as a political lightweight and weakling and Espat as a complete traitor that very few, if anyone, can trust. So we have it that a political lightweight is trying to undermine the efforts of a traitor. - Quite the tangle that the PUP finds itself in.

What is more interesting is that while some within the PUP are lobbying to have Espat installed as the new leader of that party, Johnny is rallying his troops to call an early convention. The general wisdom was that it would have been called in November of this year; however, Briceno is apparently pushing for that convention to take place in late September.

And while Briceno’s Narda Garcia purports to have held a meeting in which 22 constituency representatives voted to have Briceno endorsed as leader, there are those who are said to have attended but are quickly distancing themselves from the event all together.

Arthur Saldivar is one so called PUP representative who claims he left before the voting took place. But with someone like Saldivar who is never sure if he is coming or if he is going, anything is expected. What we can say is that if we are to take Saldivar’s claim to be true, then there may be one heck of a showdown coming up. That is, Briceno is claiming to control a lot more within the PUP than he actually does.

For the ordinary Belizean, the more these PUP factions war with each other the better the country is; after all, we’d never ever want to see another PUP government in office.

Live and let live


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