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#418100 - 10/07/11 02:57 PM Hon. John Briceño Resigns as PUP Leader  
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Mr. John Briceno, photo: Ambergris Today

by Hon. John Briceno on Friday, October 7, 2011 at 12:08pm

Today at the National Executive meeting I announced my resignation as Party Leader of the Peoples’ United Party.

Consequent to my announcement, the National Executive decided that the Hon. Mark Espat serve as acting Party Leader in the interim.

Over the past few months, I have been battling with my health issues and it will require me having periodic visits aboard for treatment.

In the months to come, as we prepare for Municipal and National elections, the party will require its party leader and all its National Leaders to work at a full 100% of their capacity. After consulting with my doctors, they have advised that I would be unable to dedicate the amount of time needed to head the party to victory.

These are crucial elections that the party must win. The direction that the present government is taking our country is a bad one- from record unemployment, a collapsing economy and crime spiraling out of control. This is not the Belize that Belizeans deserves and only a PUP government can save Belize.

It is because of this that I will continue my work as the Orange Walk Central Area Representative and PUP Standard Bearer.

It has been a great honor to be the leader of the greatest political party in Belize, the Peoples’ United Party. I need to thank the members of the National Executive and the thousands of supporters across the country who have given me their unqualified support. I will be forever grateful for all your support during my time as Party Leader.

The PUP is poised to win the next Municipal and National Elections. Let’s roll up our sleeves and continue the noble work of saving Belize.

Long live the Peoples’ United Party. May God bless Belize.

[Linked Image]
Mr. Mark Espat, photo: Ambergris Today

#418116 - 10/07/11 07:18 PM Re: Hon. John Briceño Resigns as PUP Leader [Re: Marty]  
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The news of Briceño’s decision took the nation by surprise including the Prime Minister Hon. Dean Barrow. In an interview with a media house in Belize City, PM Barrow thanked Briceño for his service to the Nation as Leader of the Opposition and wished him the best. Briceño’s leadership came under attack on Saturday when the former Party Leader Rt. Hon. Said Musa stated at the Central Party Council meeting that the rank and file of the party was tired of the excuse given that the Party was broke.

MORE at the San Pedro Sun

and HERE for the story in the Ambergris Today

#418133 - 10/08/11 07:29 AM Re: Hon. John Briceño Resigns as PUP Leader [Re: Marty]  
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The news came as a surprise to some; while for many the writing was on the wall. John Briceño steps down as leader of the People’s United Party. According to a statement which Briceño posted on his Facebook page, the reason for his resignation is for health reasons. The statement says that over the past few months he had been battling unspecified health issues, which the former PUP leader says will require him to have periodic visits abroad for treatment. After announcing his resignation at a National Executive meeting this morning, Briceño addressed reporters outside of the Lions building on Princess Margaret Drive.

Briceño in his statement said that in the months to come, the party will require a leader and all its national leaders to work at a full one hundred percent of their capacity, and that after consulting with his doctors, they have advised him that he would be unable to dedicate the amount of time needed to head the party to victory. Briceño pledged to continue his work as Orange Walk Central Area representative and contest the next general elections in that division. As to who will lead the party next …a convention will be held to select the new leader of the People’s United Party. Until that happens and in the interim, Albert Area representative Mark Espat will hold over as Acting Party Leader.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

In his response to news of the resignation of John Briceño as leader of the People’s United Party, Prime Minister Dean Barrow said that he did not wish to, quote: “kick a man when he is down,” unquote, and offered his best wishes to Mr. Briceño.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow.


#418151 - 10/08/11 08:29 AM Re: Hon. John Briceño Resigns as PUP Leader [Re: Marty]  
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Seismic Shift In PUP: Briceno Out As Leader! Espat In!

If you felt a tremor this morning around 11:00, don't worry, it wasn't an earthquake; it was the ground-shaking news that PUP Leader John Briceno had suddenly resigned.

Briceno announced the decision at a meeting of the party's National Executive this morning.

7news was there from before it started:..

Jules Vasquez Reporting
The executive members trickled in to the Lions Building at 10am, first was Senior Deputy Francis Fonseca, Campaign Co-Manager Eamon Courtenay, Publicity Director Narda Garcia, Treasurer Julius Espat, Deputy Mike Espat and Senior Deputies Mark Espat and Cordel Hyde.

He greeted Briceno cordially in the parking lot. Notably Chairman Henry Usher and Past Leader Said Musa were absent.

Sometime within the first hour of the meeting, Briceno announced his resignation.

An hour later, at noon, Secretary General Rachel Montejo came to brief the press:

Rachel Montejo, PUP Secretary General
"Hon. John Briceno will be coming outside to make a presentation. There will be no questions that he will be answering and he will simply release a statement to the nation."

Briceno came out seeming relaxed and, visibly unburdened:

Jules Vasquez
"Hi. Mr. Briceno, we understand that you have resign."

Hon. John Briceno
"Wait, let's get everybody outside. Let us come out a little bit more."

Indeed, not taking questions and wishing to have the entire executive that was present behind him, he came to the fore and made history:

Hon. John Briceno
"This morning I came and I tendered my resignation to the national executive. It is a decision that I made on my own and it has been because of personal reason - some health issues that I have been dealing with for the past months. The national executive have decided that they have set up a process they unanimously recommended that Senior Deputy Party Leader Hon. Mark Espat be the interim leader. A process has been set that probably within the next 30 days the party will hold a convention to elect a new leader. I want to take this opportunity to thank the members of the national executive and the thousands of supporters across this country that have supported me over the past three and half going to four years as the party leader of the greatest political party this country have ever had. It has been a privilege and an honor for me to be able to serve the People's United Party."

And with that, Briceno ended what has been 42 troubled and expensive months as leader - never really gaining momentum and failing to lead the party to any major election victories.

The job ahead is now for Interim Leader Mark Espat who has to solidify the support in the executive that was shown for him today.

Leaning heavily on Senior Deputy Francis Fonseca for support will be crucial if he is to engage elements of the old Guard, which, if we judge by today's absences, takes a dim view of his sudden ascent.

Certainly a stunning and unexpected turn of events - and from what we gather it is that rarest thing in politics: a genuine surprise. From what we have been able to find out Briceno gathered his inner circle at his office at 9:00 am this morning to give them the news. From there he went to the executive meeting - huddled with his senior deputies before to give them the news - and then the meeting started. Before the agenda could be tabled, he cut in and announced that he would be stepping down effective immediately.

The PUP constitution calls for an interim leader to be appointed from among the senior deputies or failing that, then the party chairman. As we understand it, at least one person, recommended the chairman Henry Charles Usher. But, Gina Tillett the President Of The Women's Group from Cayo recommended Mark Espat as interim leader. That recommendation was met with unanimous support - meaning each member of the executive - who was there - spoke and said they supported it.

That has to be considered extraordinary because a few of those executive members are sworn enemies of Mark Espat - and that's because they are old guard affiliates and many blame him for the demise of Said Musa. But - nonetheless - to a man and woman - they endorsed him as interim leader.

Now we stress that there was unanimous support among the executive members who were there because there were some notable absences. First, past leader Said Musa reportedly boycotted the event. His absence was notable because generally, he is not known to miss such meetings. The second notable absence is his son, the Party Chairman Henry Charles Usher, who was not there because - we are told - it is his birthday - which - considering all that had unfolded in the past week - seems a hardly credible excuse - particularly considering that national executive meetings are to be chaired and led by the chairman. Third, we noted the absence of Florencio Marin Jr. - the Corozal Southeast Representative and one of the PUP's five parliamentarians. So two parliamentarians and the chairman were absent - suggesting that Espat's ascension does not have universal support from the members of the party executive. Which means that the next 30 days leading up to a new National Convention will be very interesting - leading us into another season of intrigue for the PUP.

And while that is the state of play - to contextualize it all, we go into a bit of political commentary. Observers say that the only semi-credible challenge for leader could come from Said Musa, who led the party for 12 years from 1996 to 2008. Whether he still has the stomach for it remains to be seen.

But, informed observers say - it will also - to a large extent - be decided by that thing that makes the world go round: Money. The fact is that Briceno's leadership was ultimately undone because the party was broke, he had already indebted himself substantially and could not find the finances to position his party to contend in the upcoming elections. His now immortal outburst against the party's millionaires last week Saturday can now be seen as a last gasp of desperation.

So who's going to bring the money to lead the PUP into two elections in two years? Best guesses say that whoever can do that will be best positioned to be declared leader at the next convention.

But right now Espat has to be considered the favorite. He is already interim leader and - it can hardly be argued - that he is the fittest person to lead the opposition. Within the party - particularly for the old guard - the knock against him has always been - to put it bluntly - that he is disloyal.

In fact one member of the Party's order of distinguished service - Silky Stewart who huffed out of the meeting when it was suggested that Espat be interim Leader - told us that he is now a Blue-Dog UDP - meaning a PUP willing to work with the UDP - presumably because he can't stomach the idea of Espat being even interim leader.

But, detractors, aside, Espat's ascension - even in the interim - is a legitimate game changer - for the PUP who now have a demonstrably capable leader - and for the UDP who won't have Briceno to kick around or bully anymore.

Days to come will tell how it all plays out, and we promise that when we know it, you will too. But back to Briceno for a minute: apart from providing the most memorable single event in recent PUP history since George Price stepped down in 1996, he becomes the PUP leader with the second shortest term in its 61 year history: falling between Leigh Richardson who did only two years, and John Smith who did less than four - both of them back in the 50's.

As to the health issues he disclosed this morning, we can only say that it is a very surprising revelation. That's because Briceno held a media breakfast in August of this year in which he told the assembled media - in passing conversation - that he had recently gone to Merida for a physical where he was examined by a number of doctors and he was given a clean bill of health.

If pressing health problems have arisen since then, we stand corrected. It remains to be seen if he will stay on as leader of the opposition in the house for the interim period.

Channel 7

Leader of opposition John Briceño resigns

Orange Walk Central People’s United Party Leader John Briceño resigned today. Briceño became the leader of the P.U.P. in March of 2008. The Orange Walk Central standard bearer brought hopes to his party members that he could win the next General Elections against the United Democratic Party (U.D.P.). But three years and seven months later and just shy of an election, Briceño has resigned as party leader and Leader of the Opposition. Apparently from early in the week, Briceño and his inner circle have been discussing his future prior to an executive P.U.P. meeting which was slated for this morning. The executive meeting was attended by: Carolyn Trench Sandiford, Mark Espat, Cordel Hyde, Francis Fonseca, Luke Espat, and Lisa Shoman, amongst other executive members. The team was meeting to discuss the party’s finances but it seemed that Briceño had already decided to use the occasion to step aside. News Five was there when Briceño announced his resignation as he exited the Lions building located outside of the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital.

Jose Sanchez, Reporting

John Briceño

Leader of the Opposition John Briceno has been addressing issues ranging from the party’s finances to his personal finances. But Briceno says his resignation as Leader is because of health reasons.

John Briceño, Former Leader of the Opposition

“I just have a very short statement. This morning I came and tendered my resignation to the national executive. It is a decision that I made on my known. It has been because of personal health issues and reasons that I have been dealing with for the past few months.”

Not so long ago in June, a sea of blue attended Briceño’s endorsement convention in Orange Walk. The P.U.P. candidates pledged their support for the party leader.

Collet Montejo

Collet Montejo, P.U.P. Standard Bearer, Cayo Central [File: June 27th 2011]

“There is no old guard P.U.P. or no new guard P.U.P.; there is only one P.U.P.! One P.U.P.! Join together in unity standing strong behind Johnny. My fellow Belizeans, my friends, this is our moment now. From today onward, we start that march towards Belmopan; we start that march to make John Briceño our next Prime Minister and to bring in all thirty-one candidates.”

But only twenty-nine candidates were present at the convention. Notably absent were Cordell Hyde of Lake Independence and Mark Espat of the Albert Division. But as one P.U.P., today they flanked in support of Briceno, as hegave his farewell.

John Briceño

“I want to take this opportunity to thank the members of the national executive and the thousands of supporters across this country that have supported me for the past three and a half going to four years as party leader of the greatest political party this country has ever had. It has been a privilege and an honor for me to be able to serve the People’s United Party. We are all convinced—Belizeans now more than ever know that the direction that the U.D.P. has been taking this country is a wrong one: record unemployment, crime spiraling out of control, people losing hope and faith in the future and we believe that only a government of the People’s United Party can turn this around. Later in the week we are going to hold a press conference where we will be able to answer all of your questions. Thank you very much and may god continue to bless this wonderful country of Belize. Thank you.”

Mark Espat

Espat is now interim Leader of the P.U.P. and the Opposition

John Briceño

“The national executive have decided that they have set up a process—they unanimously recommended that honorable senior deputy party leader, Mark Espat, be the interim leader. A process has been set that probably within the next thirty days, the party will hold a convention to elect a new leader.

Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

While the reemergence of brothers-in-law Hyde and Espatwas expected, the absence of father and son Fort George Area Representative Said Musa and Party Chairman Henry Charles Usher was also duly noted.

Channel 5

#418153 - 10/08/11 08:34 AM Re: Hon. John Briceño Resigns as PUP Leader [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
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PM comments on Briceño’s departure and Mark Espat

Briceño remains as the elected representative of Orange Walk Central. But his departure as Leader of the Opposition did not escape the ears of Prime Minister Dean Barrow. In addition to recognizing Briceño as a likeable person outside the political arena, Barrow also commented on the P.U.P.’s viewpoint on the Ninth Amendment to the Constitution. That is because the Interim Leader had pledged support while the Party had staunchly objected to the bill.

Via Phone: Dean Barrow

“John and I took our shots at each other, but it was always political, never personal. In fact I will tell you that on a personal level, I’ve always liked him and found him very gracious. So I certainly wish him the very best indeed.”

Jose Sanchez

“Do you think that in addition to health, the decision may had have anything to do with the finances as was widely broadcasted or the lack thereof of finances in the P.U.P.?

Via Phone: Dean Barrow

Dean Barrow

“Well obviously the decision had to do with the tremendous disunity in the P.U.P.—whether the disunity has occurred as a consequence of money problems, whether it’s a matter of personality clashes—it doesn’t matter. It must be clear to all of the country that there are these huge problems in the P.U.P. And Mister obviously was not able to lead a united party. And while I am prepared to accept him at his word that there is medical reasons why he is going, of course I think that the fact of the disunity, the fact of the constant sniping of his leadership, the fact of his being undermined; must have played a significant role as well.”

Jose Sanchez

“Do you think that the new leadership, even in the interim, will go unchallenged since it seems that Mark Espat may continue as leader?”

Via Phone: Dean Barrow

“I really don’t know and it is not for me to speculate on. If you press me, I have to say that I don’t see how the fact of a new interim leader will cause the disunity to disappear, but that’s matter for that.”

Jose Sanchez

“In terms of the actual representation in the house in dealing with issues like the ninth amendment, how does the change in leadership affect the house business?”

Via Phone: Dean Barrow

“I don’t know that it affects it at all. With respect in particularly to the ninth amendment, it will be interesting because Mister Espat, the new interim leader, he is on record in saying he supports certainly the nationalization. And in fact he was the one who in a statement that he put out together with Cordel Hyde called for the enshrinement of the nationalization in the constitution. So it will be very interesting to see all of a sudden on becoming interim leader, he reverses course. But ninth amendment apart, I don’t think the balance of power in the house has not shifted at all. Mister Espat will no doubt bring his own style to debates, to the issues that of course will be considered by the house. But I don’t know that there is going to be any practical difference to speak of at all.”

Jose Sanchez

“Any final thoughts on Mister Briceño’s farewell?”

Via Phone: Dean Barrow

“Again, no. I really personally wish him very well indeed. As I said he was a politics associate. He was always a gentleman to me and I therefore have nothing but the best to offer him as he makes his exit.”

Briceño leaves for Mexico to attend to his health while the interim leader prepares for his first press conference early next week.

Channel 5

#418499 - 10/12/11 08:18 AM Re: Hon. John Briceño Resigns as PUP Leader [Re: Marty]  
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Manuela Ayuso Cantun reporting...
“On Friday, Orange Walk Central area representative John Briceno stepped down from his post as leader of the people’s united party. While the news of his resignation came as a shock to many, Briceno said that he had been battling with health issues for several months and was resigning his post on the advice of his doctors. Today we can report that Briceno left the country on Saturday and is in Mexico City where we are told he is consulting with medical professional. According to various sources close to the Bricenos , John Briceno is said to be suffering from a serious ear condition and some form of facial paralysis. Briceno has pledged to continue his work as Orange Walk Central area representative and will contest the next general elections.”


#418710 - 10/14/11 07:20 AM Re: Hon. John Briceño Resigns as PUP Leader [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
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The true reasons why PUP Party Leader in Belize John Briceno resigned
Written by Wellington C. Ramos for The Guardian

Last week the leader of the People’s United Party in Belize John Briceno abruptly resigned as leader and he said that it was due to health reasons. I have been following up Belize politics for many years now and I disagree with the reason he gave for his resignation. He resigned as party leader because of the following reasons; the refusal of the hierarchy of the party to accept him as leader, he was not endorsed by George Price for the leadership position, key members of the party continue to undermine his leadership, the withholding of funds and other party resources from him, a move by Belize City politicians to retain all party leadership positions and the Wikileaks scandal.

From the time John Briceno won the leadership position by defeating Francis Fonseca at the convention held in April of 2008, he was never accepted by many in his party executive leadership as their leader. Before the convention was held, George Cadle Price the most respected leader in the People’s United Party endorsed Francis Fonseca for the party leadership. Many party members in the executive leadership of the party were engaged in several undercurrent activities to undermine his leadership. To his surprise he was informed that the radio station, the press and other party assets no longer belonged to the party and he must purchase them for a price before he could have utilized the resources. In the history of the People’s United Party and the United Democratic Party, only two people who were not residing in Belize City have become party leaders. The first was Theodore Aranda a Garifuna politician who represented Dangriga town and the second is John Briceno from Orange Walk Town Central.

The final reason is the Wikileaks allegations which allege that while he was Minister of Natural Resources, he granted a license to a drilling company to drill for oil in Belize and in return received 1.5 million dollars US which resulted in him purchasing two cable companies in Belize.Briceno has denied these allegations that were made against him but so far has not shown any proof to show how he purchased these cable companies. In the election campaign of 2008, the United Democratic Party accused the People’s United Party of accepting bribes and of being corrupt. Two weeks ago at a PUP party anniversary forum, Briceno said that the reason why the People’s United Party is not going anywhere is because most of the party ministers who made millions off the party in their ten year rule, have taken their money abroad and refuse to bring it home to help the party to fight UDP in the elections that were held.This statement could be seen as a confirmation to the allegations that the United Democratic Party was making during the election campaign.

Before John Briceno vacated the leadership position for the People’s United Party, the executive body decided to vote for Mark Espat as the Acting Leader of the party until a Party convention is held within the next thirty days. Said Musa the former party leader and Prime Minister for ten years, Florencio Marin Jr. and the Party Chairman Henry Usher Said Musa’s son were all absent. In the leadership convention that Briceno won, Espat had planned to run but later withdrew his candidacy and threw his support behind John Briceno. When Briceno won, he then rewarded him by appointing him as one of his Deputy Leaders. His brother-in-law, Representative Cordel Hyde was also granted a Deputy Leadership position. Since their appointments as Deputy Leaders, these two individuals have failed to support Briceno and have been absent from the sitting of the House of Representatives on several occasions.

Since these two representatives decided to support John Briceno for the leadership position, other factions of the party have isolated them. Mark Espat is not liked by them and his leadership like that of John Briceno will suffer the same faith. The People’s United Party is fragmented and until they find a leader who can bring the members of the party together, they will have a difficult time defeating the United Democratic Party in the upcoming municipal and general elections. The death of George Price was a major blow to them and one week after, their party leader stepped down so things seems to be getting worst instead of better. They will call a convention soon and at that convention it will be outright war among the various factions. If some members of this party are not given what they want, it could be the end of the People’s United Party or the birth of a new party that comes out of one of these PUP factions.

#418721 - 10/14/11 07:31 AM Re: Hon. John Briceño Resigns as PUP Leader [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
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PUP National Executive Holds First Meets Under Espat Leadership

Last week Friday, PUP Party Leader John Briceno made history when he suddenly resigned as the party leader. Today, the party's interim leader Mark Espat called his first meeting of the National Executive.

It was an important event first, to see whom if anyone would boycott, and second, to hear what he'd have to say. We can answer the first question easier than the second. So we'll go to that now, as our camera was outside the Party's Headquarters on Queen Street:..

Jules Vasquez reporting
The members of the national executive filed in right on time. This time immediate past leader Said Musa did show. Communications director Narda Garcia was there as well as National Campaign Manager Eamon Courteajy and National Strategic Development Manager, Luke Espat, followed by Chairman Henry Charles Usher who also missed the last meeting.

Corozal southeast Representative Florencio Marin was present for this meeting, Senior Deputy Leader Cordel Hyde was also there and the chairman of the eastern caucus, Anthony Mahler was there as well. He told us about his group's meeting last night:

Jules Vasquez
"For the avoidance of doubt chairman, the Eastern Caucus has voted almost unanimously in support."

Anthony Mahler - Chair - Eastern Caucus
"Yes eleven of twelve constituencies voted in favor of Mark Espat being the next part leader for the People's United Party, including Fort George. The Northern Caucus is to meet on Saturday as far as I understand it and they will decide as well."

Rowland Parks, reporter
"That is the only one that is outstanding?"

Anthony Mahler - Chair - Eastern Caucus

So three of four of the party's caucuses have supported Espat but Arthur Saldivar is undeterred. He was late to the meeting - and first to leave, is typically dramatic fashion he told us he had to rush to court.

Arthur Saldivar, Aspirant Party Leader
"This is not a policy against anyone. It is the recognition that there is the need for us to put the ideas on the table to move the country forward and to give the people of Belize the chance to vet those ideas before an election."

Jules Vasquez
"But the odds are stock against you. Are you still running for leader? The Eastern Caucus has spoken eleven of twelve."

Arthur Saldivar, Aspirant Party Leader
"Listen to me, the odds from birth is stack against us. Of 500 million only one succeed to actually conceive life. I am a winner from birth."

Rowland Parks, reporter
"It has been mention before in the media that you have no experience, you are untested in terms of any governmental posting as a minister or a senator. You've never sat in the House of Representatives. How can you possible expect to lead the People's United Party."

Arthur Saldivar, Aspirant Party Leader
"That's inconsequential and insignificant. At the end of the day if Boots Martinez wins one hundred elections that does not make him a brilliant person. At the end of the day we require someone who is serious and we require serious people in politics."

Jules Vasquez
"But Arthur the Easter and Western Caucus have spoken. They are unanimous - universal except for one in the Eastern Caucus did not give his support for Mr. Espat. The game is over."

Arthur Saldivar, Aspirant Party Leader
"There is no game. The business of the people is no game Jules. I am somewhat shock that you find it to be such...."

Jules Vasquez
"It's a numbers game."

Geovanni Brackett, reporter
"Only your caucus has supported you, you have no other support, absolutely one. You stand alone."

Arthur Saldivar, Aspirant Party Leader
"Well the caucuses are made up of standard bearers. But the People's United Party is made up of members, there are delegates that must vote and a victory is defined in various ways."

And while it is unclear if Saldivar will continue to pursue what looks to be a moribund candidacy. We know that everyone who came out of the meeting told us it was good and productive.

Even so the interim leader declined an interview - only to say that the 19thl had been set for nominations, the 29th. for a national party council and November fifth for a national convention if there is a contest for leader.

Interestingly he has not said plainly that he will offer himself as a candidate for leader.

We weren't allowed in to hear the meeting, but we are told that Espat gave a sobering review of the party's finances: according to reports, it is millions of dollars in debt.

With that, and despite today's Belize Times headline declaring a landslide of support for Espat, he still has not said that he will offer himself as Party Leader. If he will, his name has to be in by Wednesday October 19th.

Still, support for his leadership remains almost unanimous within the party, and the Northern Caucus will meet this weekend to decide whom it will support.

Channel 7

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