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#419186 - 10/19/11 07:25 AM PUP's Terrible Tuesday  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 57,800
Marty Offline
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Espat Declines Leadership; Briceno Steps Down As Parliamentary Leader Of Opp.

Mark Espat was chosen as interim leader of the PUP two weeks ago - and it seems interim is all he'll ever be. The three - term area representative today announced that he will not seek the post of party leader. Starting this morning at ten, Espat individually called members of the party's national executive and the 31 standard bearers to tell them that he had decided he will not offer himself as Party Leader.

It is shocking, staggering news for the party - and many who supported Espat are left feeling like what can only be described as brides left at the altar.

We'll discuss the fallout shortly, but first to the news. Espat sent a statement to the press this afternoon and it says, quote:

"Today, I informed members of the National Executive and the Standard Bearers of the People's United Party of my final decision not to seek the post of Party Leader.

I am profoundly grateful for the numerous expressions of support for my leadership from Standard Bearers, Party branches, Party members and from the general citizenry of Belize.

Working along with our Deputy Leaders and National Executive and in conformity with our Constitution, the Party will proceed with the election of a substantive Party Leader in the shortest possible timeframe."

End of quote. But what the statement does not discuss is that most confounding question: Why? Why would an ambitious, professional, politician, eminently qualified to lead, and with near unanimous support simply walk away from a leadership that was all but his?

Jules Vasquez examines it in this report:

When Mark Espat stood beside John Briceno eleven days ago - as the leader resigned. All in PUP land expected his ascension to leader to be axiomatic and almost automatic.

And sure enough, near unanimous support came in from all four caucuses - in the end he had 30 of 31 seats supporting him - unprecedented support for any PUP leader - ever.

And he walked away today. The reason? Money. The PUP owes over five million dollars and would need another eight or ten million dollars to run the next two campaigns in 17 months.

From the outset, Espat told all the executive members and standard bearers that he would not offer himself for leader unless there was a clear way to raise this money - in other words he didn't want to play in a game that he didn't have a fair chance fo winning.

In a letter to those standard bearers today, he said "You will recall that in our conversations and meetings during the past several days, we spoke openly about the circumstances under which I would accept this important nomination. Unfortunately, these conditions do not now exist."

The do not exist because it is widely held that such millions could only come from the Ashcroft Alliance - but it seems Espat was unprepared to meet that group's demands - which were sure to be stringent after having been burned by former and present prime ministers.

So now, who will lead the PUP? The unelected, unproven Arthur Saldivar is not considered a credible option, Said Musa today told us he is not offering himself, but said he would support Francis Fonseca. Whether he will do it after losing his bid doe the post in 2008 is what now remains to be seen.

And so will Francis Fonseca take up the post? We tried to contact him today but got no answer. But, it is widely felt that as the consummate team player Fonseca will be pressed into service. And while he lost his leadership bid in 2008 and was passed over for interim leader two weeks ago, in a sense, Fonseca's political career has been defined by dutifulness, and - it is felt - he is now almost duty bound to come to the rescue of his party - which, for all intents and purposes has been left in the lurch.

As we noted in the story, Said Musa today told us he will not offer himself but would support Fonseca -and it is almost certain that Francis Fonseca's cousin, Ralph would support him - which could help to alleviate the party's distressed financial state. Fonseca did not answer our calls or our text messages requesting comment.

The deadline for the submission of nominations for leader is tomorrow. But whoever takes up the mantle of leadership - they'll have more than just money problems to contend with. In the letter sent out to standard bearers and the executive today, Espat warned that the very culture of the party is in jeopardy. He said, and we quote, "the Party needs, more than anything else, to bridge the alarming chasm between the priorities of big donors, on the one hand, and those of its supporters, on the other…"

He cautioned that, quote, "donors and voters will compete for the attention of the political leaders; however, for a political party to tackle the prevailing national challenges…greater attention needs to be paid to the voters and lesser attention to the donors." And in closing, he says, quote:

"I urge you - break this cycle of decline.."

And his candid letter also warns that the "Party's electioneering and operational machinery" are not "battle-ready."

Channel 7

#419187 - 10/19/11 07:26 AM Re: PUP's Terrible Tuesday [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 57,800
Marty Offline
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There Is No Leader Of The Opposition

And so while the next leader of the PUP has a big job ahead - don't look around for help from the former leader, John Briceno. He's heading for the exits and fast. 7news has confirmed that Briceno has written to the Governor General saying that he is stepping down as the Parliamentary Leader Of The Opposition.

That means that at Friday's House Sitting, Briceno will not sit in the first seat on the opposition side, which is reserved for the leader. The question now is, who will? It is no small matter, because formally, the country is without a leader of the opposition, which is a dire state in any democracy.

It is, to our knowledge, the very first time in Belize's Parliamentary history that a leader of the opposition has unilaterally stepped down - with no immediate successor in place. It is a virtual certainty that senior Deputy Espat will not step into that position, and again, it seems to be left to Senior Deputy Francis Fonseca - but again, that is only speculation. Fonseca is - we are informed - considering his options and not jumping into anything.

Constitutionally, the Governor General can appoint as leader the person who commands a majority of support on the opposition side, or commands the support of the largest group.

But that is a nuanced exercise - and so it is unlikely anything will be done before Friday's meeting - particularly since the PUP has scheduled a National Party Council meeting to select a new leader on October 29th. Still, any four members can get together and support a new leader to be sworn in before Friday - so we'll wait and see if that happens.

Channel 7

#419188 - 10/19/11 07:26 AM Re: PUP's Terrible Tuesday [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 57,800
Marty Offline
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Mayoral Hopeful Schackron Adds To The PUP Woes

And if all that wasn't bad enough for Belize's Grand Old Party reduced now to a leader-less band, one more lesser blow came this morning.

Yolanda Schackron who intended to run for mayor - has formally withdrawn her candidacy. She wrote a short letter to the party which states no reason for her withdrawal, thanks the PUP and wishes the other candidates well. Sources close to Shackron suggest that the withdrawal of this high profile candidate is related to the PUP's leadership woes, since it is known she was a favourite of the past leader, Briceno.

And while her stepping out is nothing in the order of Espat's refusal to run or Briceno's stepping down as parliamentary leader, coming all in the same morning, it makes it, legitimately, The PUP's Terrible Tuesday.

Channel 7

#419196 - 10/19/11 07:57 AM Re: PUP's Terrible Tuesday [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 57,800
Marty Offline
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There is only one P.U.P., but zero leader

Mark Espat

The P.U.P. finds itself in a conundrum tonight, days after it turned sixty-one. John Briceño officially stepped down today as leader of the opposition in the House and on the eve of the deadline for the leadership of the party, the interim leader, Mark Espat, has decided he will not be running for leader even though he had overwhelming support from thirty of thirty-one constituencies. Espat, who was named interim leader when Briceño resigned on October seventh, told party officials that the demands on him are too much to assume the leadership at this critical time. Primarily, he has not been able to secure financing for a multi-million dollar plan for party operations between now and the next general elections. Neither could he make certain concessions to the so called old guard of the party and Espat is not known to take risks.

A release from Espat says that “Today, I informed members of the National Executive and the Standard Bearers of the People’s United Party of my final decision not to seek the post of Party Leader. I am profoundly grateful for the numerous expressions of support for my leadership from Standard Bearers, Party branches, Party members and from the general citizenry of Belize. Deserving of my infinite gratitude for the opportunity to serve Belize and the P.U.P. are my constituents, and particularly the members of the Albert Campaign and Action Committees whose exceptional labor, commitment and loyalty for the causes of change and justice in our country buoyed me during the many stormy times. Working along with our Deputy Leaders and National Executive and in conformity with our Constitution, the Party will proceed with the election of a substantive Party Leader in the shortest possible timeframe.”

So tonight the news is that the grand old party is in a tailspin over a serious leadership crisis. After the humiliating defeat of 2008, the People’s United Party has been crushed by fighting within its ranks and waning public confidence. Espat’s decision leaves the door wide open since most agree that Attorney Arthur Saldivar is not a viable alternative. When we spoke to Senior Deputy Party Leader Francis Fonseca, he said he had not discussed the matter with his family and was therefore saying no at this time. The past leader Said Musa has not, we are told, indicated whether he will make a comeback but there is plenty speculation about who will eventually make the bid.

Channel 5

#419205 - 10/19/11 08:29 AM Re: PUP's Terrible Tuesday [Re: Marty]  
Joined: May 2011
Posts: 1,520
Bear Offline
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Any worthy (and funded) independednt candidates on national scene? I'm sure the UDP folks are poppin bubbly at this news, but then maybe they weren't concerned in the first place...

#419256 - 10/19/11 01:53 PM Re: PUP's Terrible Tuesday [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 57,800
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline
from a friend....

What we learned...

PUP does not have any money; one of the reason Briceno dropped out. The PUPs stole from the PUP (poetic justice). Francis is the only one left standing who can get the stolen PUP $ back into the party, via Said and Ralph, and contributions from Ashcroft. Which means Said and Ralph still have the stolen the money and Ashcroft is in league with them. No shame.

#419271 - 10/19/11 06:01 PM Re: PUP's Terrible Tuesday [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 57,800
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline
from Patrick Jones....

The battle for the leadership of the People's United Party (PUP) will be a three-man race. The contenders are: Arthur Saldivar, Julius Espat and Michael Espat. With 30 minutes left before the close of nominations, it is almost a foregone conclusion that the trio will battle for the leadership of the party in early November.

#419285 - 10/20/11 07:24 AM Re: PUP's Terrible Tuesday [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 57,800
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline

PUP In The Throes OF Transition: Three Emerge For Leader

Who will lead the PUP? Tonight the answer to that question is even more unclear than it was last night - and the question of the party's leadership seems to be going from a debate to a circus.

Today was the deadline for nominations to be handed in for prospective leaders, and there are no less than three persons nominated for the post, none of them is the man we called the favorite, Francis Fonseca, and none is even an elected Parliamentarian.

As we understand it, Fonseca defied expectations and turned down the leadership. That seems to have forced some crisis meetings at a familiar place, Said Musa's E Street Home in Kings Park, where we this morning saw Ralph Fonseca's vehicle, financier Mike Feinstein's vehicle, another financier, as well as Julios Espat's Hilux.

That was around 11:00 and by 12:30 today, news broke that Party Treasurer Julius Espat had accepted a nomination for leader.

And by this afternoon, we learnt that Deputy Leader Mike Espat had also been nominated and accepted. They both join the man who declared and put in his name a week ago, Arthur Saldivar.

This evening after 5:00 pm, which marked the close of nominations, party chairman Henry Usher briefed the press:

Jules Vasquez
"How many are nominated for Leader?"

Henry Charles Usher - Chairman, People's United Party
"Well good evening everyone, I have verified with the Secretary General, and we have more than one nominations and acceptances for the post of Leader of the People's United Party. Tomorrow, we have a meeting with the National Executive, and all standard bearers country-wide. And we will be briefing them on all the nominations and those that have accepted the nominations. Following that meeting, we will have a more detailed briefing for the media. I'd like the National Executive and the standard bearers to know before the media knows what is happening country-wide. In accordance to the timeframe set up by the National Executive, we will have a national party council on the October 29th - that is next week Saturday - and at tomorrow's meeting, we will set the date for the National Convention. I can confirm that there are more than 1 applications."

Jose Sanchez - Channel 5 News
"Who are the 4 applicants?"

Henry Charles Usher
"I will let the media know tomorrow after the meeting."

Jose Sanchez - Channel 5 News
"In terms of the House Meeting on Friday, who will act as Leader of the Opposition?

Henry Charles Usher
"Tomorrow we'll have a more detailed briefing for the media. I just wanted - I know that the eyes of the country are on the People's United Party right now, and I know that the media wanted to get some answers today. So that is why I asked you all to come today. We appreciate the interest shown by the media and by the country, and tomorrow you'll have all your answers."

Jose Sanchez - Channel 5 News
"Will there be an Opposition marching on Friday?"

Henry Charles Usher
"You will have your answers tomorrow, Jose."

Jules Vasquez
"Is the party upset or disturbed that Mark Espat, interim Leader, has sort of left it in the lurch?"

Henry Charles Usher
"Well, first of all, Mark Espat did accept the post of interim Leader when Hon. John Briceno resigned. He has been working as interim Leader since October 7. I know he has not left the party in a lurch because we are moving forward. We have applicants for the post of leadership, and we will have a leader after the convention. So there is no sadness or regret at all, Jules."

Jules Vasquez
"Are you concerned that the names we have heard as candidates for leadership are not elected parliamentarians or even proven leaders?"

Henry Charles Usher
"Well, I don't know what you mean by proven leaders. I think that everybody who has run for this party are proven leaders. Perhaps, some that have applied are not parliamentarians, but we have had a situation before where we've had a Leader of the Opposition in the House, and a party leader outside of the house. So that is not unprecedented."

Jules Vasquez
"Will you all have a parliamentarian's meeting tomorrow to determine who will be the leader in the House? I know the Governor General - I am told that he has individually called members of parliament to find out where they stand, who they support for leader."

Henry Charles Usher
"We have a meeting of the National Executive and the standard bearers, and the parliamentarians of course, are a part of both those committees, so yes, they will be here tomorrow. And I do know that the Governor General has been calling around as is his right under the Constitution, to determine who the Leader of the Opposition is."

Jules Vasquez
"I anticipate that - I am told on the record, by Mr. Briceno, that they will not support Mr. Musa as the Leader of the Opposition. It is him, Cordel Hyde, and Mark Espat, against Said Musa's ascension to the Leader of the Opposition. It's a 3 split, it appears."

Henry Charles Usher
"Well, you are giving me news now , Jules. I can't tell you what Mr. Briceno said because he hasn't told me anything."

Jules Vasquez
"If that is the case, if what I'm saying is accurate, how does that bode for the PUP heading into Friday?"

Henry Charles Usher
"We will have a Leader of the Opposition on Friday, Jules. We will have a Leader of Opposition. This country will have a Leader of the Opposition."

And so that is the situation tonight: The PUP will have a national convention to select a leader - no date for that has been set.

Julius Espat was nominated by his divisional chairperson in Cayo South where he is a first time candidate, while Mike Espat was nominated by Collet Montejo of Cayo Central.

Party Treasurer Espat - who is a relative newcomer and a first time aspirant for political office told us that he is embarking on his countrywide tour to rally support for his candidacy.

He says he is glad there will be a contest for leader and that it is all about democracy to make sure the right persons leads the party.

As for the party's debt - a situation he should be intimately knowledgeable of as party treasurer - he says the party is not that indebted and quote, "we have made some minor loans" but stressed that the debt is not a "deal breaker" as it was for Mark Espat's candidacy.

And while Treasurer Espat downplays the debt, we do know that the PUP has significant commercial debts including 440 thousand dollars to the Holy Redeemer Credit Union, 1.8 million dollars to the Belize Bank, 800 thousand dollars in over draft and 2.3 million dollars owed to John Briceno.

Channel 7

#419290 - 10/20/11 07:36 AM Re: PUP's Terrible Tuesday [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 57,800
Marty Offline
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Constitutional Crisis! Oppositon Parliamentarians Can't Decide On Leader Of The Opposition

But for a party struggling to maintain public credibility - all that debt is the least of its worries.

First, as candidates for leader, it has two persons - in Arthur Saldivar and Julius Espat - who have never even won a convention much less an election of any kind - and another, Mike Espat who recently lost in Punta Gorda East by 765 votes.

It's not exactly a picture that inspires overwhelming confidence and - as we reported last night - the party is also without a Leader of the Opposition after John Briceno resigned yesterday.

As was discussed in that interview with the Party Chairman - it is a legitimate constitutional crisis.

The situation tonight is that Fort George Representative and a Right Honorable member of the House Said Musa has indicated to the Governor General that he has the support of two other parliamentarians, Francis Fonseca and Florencio Marin Jr. and wishes to be sworn in as leader of the opposition.

But - the decision is for the Governor General, and his duty under the constitution is to determine which member or which group has a majority of the support on the opposition side. As was mentioned in the interview, the GG's office proceeded to call all six PUP Parliamentarians, and John Briceno, Cordel Hyde and Mark Espat all indicated that they do not support Said Musa as Leader of the Opposition.

So it is deadlocked, three to three, none of the PUP's House members enjoys a majority - and the decision is left to the GG, in his deliberate judgment. We should know what the GG decides or does not decide tomorrow, leaving the country's democratic system is a weird sort of limbo, without a parliamentary leader of the opposition for the first time in modern history.

It is history, but, the kind of history that Prime Minister Dean Barrow wants to ensure does not turn into triumphalism for his party. He today told us he is confident the PUP will make a comeback:

Prime Minister Dean Barrow - Prime Minister of Belize
"Well the whole spectacle that's playing out is fascinating. It is worrying in a slight degree. We have to be concerned if there is any indication of a serious crisis in the Opposition such as would disable it - such as would make it ineffectual. And to the extent that that is way in which some people are viewing the developments, I have to be concerned. In politics, on very many occasions, perception is reality. But I don't genuinely think that this crossroads that the PUP - the Opposition - has reached is meaning that there is any kind of a terminal problem. I don't think this signals the death of the PUP at all, and I don't think it signals the death of the Opposition. It's going to take some doing, but I think they will come out of this. And I think that they will, sooner rather than later, choose a new leader, and things will continue much as they had before."

Jules Vasquez
"Are you concerned that for this important House Meeting on Friday, when this controversial 9th amendment to the Constitution will be brought back to the House, that there may not be a Leader of the Opposition? As of right now, we have no formal leader."

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"It makes no difference at all to a passage or otherwise of the bill. There have been very many occasions before when the Opposition has boycotted, and so, apart from perhaps punctuating the psychological fallout from all that is happening, there is no practical or material consequence to the formal Constitutional absence of a Leader of the Opposition. Look, I want to be very careful, and I think that I'm trying to be as sober as possible, and repeat what I said. I don't think that this is any death knell of the PUP. If it did signal any death knell, I would be extremely concerned. They are having serious problems, you can't deny that, but I honestly believe that these are problems they will work through. These are problems I want them to work through. This is no occasion for any kind of gloating on the part of the Government. This is no occasion for any kind of rejoicing, but I am - by now - an old and experienced politician. I haven't seen anything quite like this before, but nothing really surprises me. And I am convinced of the eternal capacity - almost eternal capacity - of parties to right themselves and come back from crisis. I should know. The UDP has certainly come back from crisis before. I sympathize with the difficulties of Mr. Espat - the difficulties sketched by Mr. Espat - but somebody else will rise to the challenge. I spent 10 years in the wilderness. But that, there, is a difficulty experienced by the PUP in terms of raising money going forward. It cannot be denied and I'm saying that I've been there. There is something wrong with the culture of the PUP indeed, when the party will start to feel that without money, and a great deal of money, you can't be effective - you can't win an election. I am here to tell them that is simply not true. We have won every election that we've won without any serious money - without any money of the order of what the PUP is used to. So really, I am certain, as I said, that they will pick themselves up, and they will move forward."

Jules Vasquez
"How will you discipline your party to not be seduced as they naturally are by the idea of one-party rule. And I have spoken to UDP's - and this is natural - who are rejoicing and are saying that well, 'We are getting another 10 years now.'"

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"I would strongly caution against that, and we discussed this matter in Cabinet yesterday, because we got the news while we were in Cabinet, of what had happened with Mr. Espat. And I will tell you that if that kind of a sentiment is being expressed at the rank-and-file level, it is not a sentiment that is espoused or embraced by people in Cabinet at all. We are very conscious of two things: in politics, a week is an eternity, so you might appear to be irreversibly on top one moment, and the next moment it all comes crashing down. I don't think that scenario likely, but it is certainly possible. And secondly, nobody in my cabinet is to even contemplate the prospect of becoming swell-headed. That way lies disaster. We have to be very firm in terms of holding unto our instincts - our better instincts, our best instincts - which must be to try to continue to govern in a way that is humble, and in a way that we can argue convincingly is in the best interest of the country."

Channel 7

#419295 - 10/20/11 07:45 AM Re: PUP's Terrible Tuesday [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 57,800
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline

PM comments on state of PUP

The Prime Minister of Belize, Hon. Dean Barrow, in an interview today, commented on the state of the People’s United Party and described the entire upheaval as intriguing.

PM Dean Barrow
The whole spectacle that is playing out is fascinating; it is worrying in a slight degree. We have to be concerned about any indication of a serious crisis in the opposition that would disable it and that would make it ineffectual and to the extent that that is the way that some people are viewing the developments. I have to be concerned, but I don’t genuinely think that at this cross-road that the PUP has reached is meaning that there is any kind of terminal problem; I don’t think this signals the death of the PUP at all. I think that it is going to take some doings, but I think that they will come out of this and I think that they will sooner rather than later, choose a new leader and things will go on just as they were before.

With the controversial 9th amendment set to go to the house on Friday, the Prime Minister was asked about the implications on that House sitting given the current PUP state.

PM Dean Barrow
It makes no difference at all to passage or otherwise of the bill; there have been many occasions before when the opposition has boycotted, so apart from perhaps punctuating the psychological flow from all that is happening, there is no practical or material consequence to the formal constitutional absence of a leader of the opposition.

The Prime Minister says that he doesn’t believe that the problems the PUP are facing now will be the end of the party.


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