b>Tonight the real hot news is not about Dean Barrow's third term; it's about PUP Leader Francis Fonseca's abrupt and unexpected announcement that he is stepping down as party leader. Fonseca made the announcement at an understated press briefing this afternoon in Belize City. His stark announcement stunned observers at party headquarters:...
Hon. Francis Fonseca, Stepping Down
"Ladies and gentlemen it has been my distinct honor and privilege to lead the People's United Party over the past 4 years. I think given the results of yesterday's elections, it is right and appropriate that I stand down as the leader of the People's United Party. I certainly want to thank the wonderful people of Freetown for their unwavering support for 4 consecutive general elections. I had been and continue to be humbled by their love and support. I am a very young man as Jules Vasquez knows, but this has been my last election. I am still in my 40s, but I think I will have to find another way to contribute to the development of Belize, Jules. I will of course serve out term working for the people of Freetown. But I do not intend to seek re-election."
And so, just like that, Fonseca who just won the Freetown division by his largest margin yet and for a fourth term - is walking away from PUP leadership 4 years after he took up the post, and electoral politics 12 years after he won his first election. He says that it wasn't a spontaneous decision - he decided much before the election that if the PUP lost he would step aside.
Hon. Francis Fonseca, Stepping Down
"I am certainly at peace. That's the kind of person I am. I don't hang on to anything for too long. So I don't trouble myself over things. I do the best I can and then as I said many times over the past few days, we will do all we can. The Belizean people would have to do the rest. They have spoken. We Respect their voice. So I am quite at peace with the work I have done and my contribution to the People's United Party during a very difficult time in its history."
New Leader Will Be Selected at a National Convention
According to Fonseca, his departure will create a vacuum in the leadership of the party that is expected to be filled via a national convention at a time that is yet to be set. A post mortem of the general elections is also anticipated and factors, including the party’s performances at the polls prior to November fourth, will be carefully considered in determining the cause of the loss.
Francis Fonseca, Party Leader, P.U.P.
“The chairman will oversee that process moving forward and yes, ultimately that process will end with the holding of a national convention or a special convention at which there is the election of a new leader of the People’s United Party.”
“In addition to that, is there any plans for an internal review by the party of this particular election campaign?”
“Of course, yeah. Of course, of course. We certainly have to do a proper analysis of the election results constituency by constituency; a national analysis. Clearly, we do that after every election with a view to ensuring that we understand the weaknesses, the strengths, the weakness and, you know, based on that analysis we are then able to better plan. The hope is to better plan for the future. So certainly we will do that as a party. Certainly in the weeks and months ahead.”
“And then finally, your reaction looking at the results. You were within two seats last time and then slipped back, obviously the bye-elections may have had something to do with that. But you were able to gain seats in the city at the expense of some seats in the districts. Do you think voter transfer and registration had any role to play in that exchange?”
“Yeah. I think that will form a part of the analysis but clearly, yes, clearly, those are significant factors. There was a significant movement of voters into particular constituencies but as a political party you have to be prepared for those things. You have to respond to them, you have to fight them. You know, I always tell people we can complain and whine and warn and bring these things to the attention of the nation but when the elections are over there is very little you can do about fundamentally changing how these things are done unless you are the government.”