The PUP celebrated its 67th birthday on Saturday with its quarterly National Party Council Meeting at the SCA Multipurpose Auditorium. But, it wasn't business as usual at all; party leader John Briceno surprised the gathering when he called for a National Convention to be held on Sunday, November 26th.

It's a surprise because Briceno was just elected leader 18 months ago, and he has a two year term. The party constitution calls for conventions bi-annually in November, so the conventional wisdom was that he would hold off until next year November.

But Briceno pulled the tigger early. On Saturday he told the media he wants a new mandate - but is it political positioning since there are some rumblings of discontent with his leadership? Here's how he answered that:

Hon. John Briceno, Leader of the Opposition
"I believe that I have met the mandate that I was given and I felt that we need a new mandate and at the same time to use that opportunity to energize the party base, the party faithful for us to come together as one family, as one united party at the national convention to endorse the leadership of this party and at the same time to give us that mandate that we are going to be there every single day fighting the United Democratic Party."

Reporter
"This could be considered as a bold very move on your part to in a sense neutralize any camps who would want to contest for the leadership. Would you see it that way?"

Hon. John Briceno, Leader of the Opposition
"I think some people might speculate, might want to look at it from that angle. I look at it differently. I believe that I am almost at the end of my 2 year term, which would have been at the end of January. So we could have had the convention either this October or next year October. I want to take advantage of having a national party convention, a massive national convention that we can mobilize our people - that we can unite our people - that we can energize the party to lead us into the municipal elections and with that energy we believe that we can have success at the poles. So while some may that I am trying to out maneuver, it means more about the party and about winning the next municipal elections."

Reporter
"Certainly, you caught some people off-guard by this announcement today."

Hon. John Briceno, Leader of the Opposition
"If they have caught off-guard, so be it. But at the end I need to quickly add that I have not seen any member trying to say that they were interested in leadership. People are only interested in one thing..."

Reporter
"We have heard some names though, Kareem Musa - at least as one. You are saying you haven't heard those names at all?"

Hon. John Briceno, Leader of the Opposition
"None at all and I have great respect and regard for Kareem and He and I have been working very closely. In every instance whatever I ask Kareem to do, he takes on the challenge and I met with him yesterday when I told him my plan and he is prepared to work as a team and he is prepared to continue to support me as the party leader, so you know there is always speculation from different people. But I could assure you that you did not heard it from Kareem himself saying that he is prepared to challenge me."

Reporter
"But of there was a challenge, you yourself would be prepared?"

Hon. John Briceno, Leader of the Opposition
"I am always prepared."

Again the national convention is slated for November 26th. And Briceno is expected to go forward unchallenged with the same executive.

The resolution was passed without any objection.

Channel 7