PUP gives support to John as Leader of the Opposition
As predicted, two deputy leaders and three other parliamentarians were no shows at the National Party Council meeting of the People’s United Party this past Saturday at Independence Hall. They boycotted the second highest authority of the PUP because they did not agree with the convening of the meeting and were opposed to a rumoured September convention which would have upset any plans for a challenge to John Briceño’s leadership. While their absence added salts to the wounds of a divided party, it didn’t matter because Briceno was in full control of twenty-seven constituencies at Independence Hall. He had the numbers from south to north, east and west. Saturday’s meeting was well choreographed and News Five Jose Sanchez has a report.
Jose Sanchez, Reporting
On Saturday the People’s United Party held its National Party Council meeting at Independence Hall in Belize City. The question on hand was whether or not the opposition party would have a September convention for leadership. PUP leaders from across the country packed Independence Hall. Mike Espat opened the floor and spoke of unity and those who he believes are causing disunity in the party.
Mike Espat, Toledo Representative
“One thing was common in all those villages. Gentlemen if you all want our support, you all have to unite. I really was surprised that was coming out from those villages. And it seems to me that we in the People’s United Party refuse to listen. It seems to me that we spend more time fighting ourselves than fighting with the UDP. Our commitment after those meetings with the caucus from the south, I am pledging to you my support—and I don’t have to speak for them, they will speak for themselves. We no have time fi go fight in no convention and that is why we made a move. We made a move in Corozal that we are endorsing you as the leader of the People’s United Party. This bull have to stop. And who in the People’s United Party say that’s not democratic, no man dah we decide. This party belongs to us. We make those decisions here. Ih noh belong to no, two people or three people.”
And no doubt the two or three persons include some of the five men who strolled into Briceño’s office at Happy Tails building last week Thursday. Noticeably absent were parliamentarians: Francis Fonseca, Florencio Marin, Cordel Hyde, Mark Espat and Said Musa, all who appeared to have formed an alliance with Espat in a possible move for Party Leader. But in a surprising power play, though the former PM was missing, he still had representation through his son, Henry Charles Usher, the chairman of Fort George Division. Usher’s ambition is to rise within the ranks of the party; he called for a national convention.
Henry Charles Usher, Chairman of PUP Fort George Division
“We’ve been on this merry go round for too long. It’s time to get off the ride and start to work. Belizeans are asking us to work, to get back to Belmopan and to rescue this country from the UDP. That is what we need to do. We have always followed our constitution and we will continue to follow the constitution of our fathers. The constitution calls for this council right here. All of us here to set the date and I’m asking all of you in here to set that date for the national convention so we can move this party forward.”
The adulation and support for Briceño went without challenge.
Toledo West Representative
“Our constituents have asked us here today to publicly acknowledge and congratulate party leader for reaching out to Toledo West.”
“Johnny comes to Dangriga, he comes to the Stann Creek District. He comes to Toledo. He has shown interest in what this is about and so we have no choice than to endorse him as the party leader and the next prime minister of this country.”
Corozal North Representative
“On behalf of executive of Corozal north, the voters of the People’s United Party, I stand here to firmly endorse you as our leader.”
“I believe right now the executive is full of baggage and right now we need to get rid of some of those baggage.”
Maureen Leslie, Aspiring Politician
“If I am doing all this work then two days before convention day, up comes some Johnny come lately and seh well I want to run now too. That is not—I don’t want that. I work with this—commission could tell yoh—in the police department we have our bible, well this is our bible for the PUP and all I’m asking is that we do what we are supposed to do and we will have no problem.”
After Maureen Leslie’s held up the PUP bible, the crowd was ready to hear from John’s gospel.
John Briceño, Leader, PUP
“We have a consensus that we should have a special national convention as soon as possible based on the constitution. Is that the will of the central party council? Is there any against? There is no one against. We’re going to be using the amendments on the constitution that we have already ratified. The first one is that under the amendments we have done, first we had one delegate for every one hundred votes that you got in the last election. Under the new amendments we are going to have one delegate for every twenty-five votes that we had in the last election. That will mean ladies and gentlemen that in the last election we had about six hundred and fifty delegates, the next national convention we will have over two thousand delegates, party members deciding the future of this party. The deadline for submitting names in case you are interested in serving in the national executive will be September thirteenth. By September fourteenth is the deadline for the list of all the delegates to be submitted to the secretariat.”
Rodwell Ferguson, Dangriga Representative
“I endorse Johnny Briceno as leader of PUP and I want to take this opportunity to ask the council if the next convention could be held in the district of Stann Creek.”
The National Executive met this morning and heard Ferguson’s call and has decided that the convention will be held on October seventeenth in Dangriga. Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.