Four Months After Stroke, Rt. Hon. Musa Steps Down
Turning now to some very major late breaking political news, Said Musa is retiring form Electoral politics. The announcement came a few minutes ago from the PUP in a release which says, quote, "Earlier this evening PUP Leader Hon. John BriceĂ±o visited the Rt. Hon. Said Musa, who continues to make remarkable progress from a stroke.
Said Musa informed the leader that he has decided that the time has come to step aside as PUP Fort George Standard Bearer and make way for a young and competent leader to be selected as the PUP candidate."
In a letter to the residents of Fort George, the two-time former Prime Minister states that, "In view of the imminent date for the next general elections, it has been agreed that the new standard bearer is to be endorsed by the National Executive of the Party on the recommendation of the constituency Branch Executive."
It is a matter of great moment for Belize's political history; the Right Honourable Musa is a two term former Prime Minister and 8 term representative for Fort George. Mr Musa's stroke and the presence of COVID 19 were two major factors that led the 76 year old to step down.
Rt. Hon. Said’s Departure - The End Of a Long Run
We close with another look at the biggest news of the night. 8 term area representative and two term Prime Minister said Musa has denied to step down. The major decision comes four months after he suffered a stroke in the first week fo May. And that long interval is clearly a suggestion that Musa had hoped to run once more time - but with possibly 60 days left to go before the general election, he has - for his own reasons - decided that he won't be able to, or would rather not.
A release from the PUP says that he informed party leader John Briceno, quote "that he has decided that the time has come to step aside as PUP Fort George Standard Bearer and make way for a young and competent leader to be selected as the PUP candidate." A letter to the residents of Fort George, says, quote,"In view of the imminent date for the next general elections, it has been agreed that the new standard bearer is to be endorsed by the National Executive of the Party on the recommendation of the constituency Branch Executive." And the burning question in the PUP tonight is who will that standard bearer be? Then heir apparent is his son, party and Fort George divisional chairman Henry Charles Usher. But, there are no clear indications tonight - after this announcement that was anticipated months ago, but just dropped tonight. As Musa retires Fort George is considered one of the safest seats in the country.
Said Musa, The House Battler Ends 36 Years In Parliament
Last night the news flash came at six minutes past 6:00 - after 36
years in parliament - 76 year old Said Musa had finally announced that
he would be stepping down from electoral politics.
Now, politicians do retire - and in the normal course, it's not
headline news. But, Musa's grudging departure is what made this news.
He suffered a stroke on the night of May 7th, but refused to truly call
it quits until last night, four months later - and with two months to
go before a general election. And that reluctant departure was because,
our information says, that even with major improvement in his overall
condition, and ongoing physical therapy, he just wouldn't be able to
make another run.
So, Musa ends 8 terms of representing the Fort George Division, from
1979 to 2020 - interrupted by one loss in 1984. In that time, Musa
became Party Leader for 12 years, and Prime Minister for 10 years, or
His legacy in public office is surely not without taint or controversy,
but tonight, our story focusses instead on Musa, the House Battler, as
discussed by three of his most senior Parliamentary colleagues, Michael
Finnegan and John Briceno, who've both been in the House for 27 years
each, and Dean Barrow who's been there, like Musa, for 36 years. Jules
Vasquez has the story:
Said Musa's public life as a politician span five decades. He is an 8-term
area representative and a two-term prime minister.
In all this year, he has earned the respect of his opponents on the other
side of the floor:
Hon. Michael Finnegan - UDP Mesop Area Rep, 1993 - 2020
"I am glad to see my friend going - I know the people of Fort George
division will miss him but that is the way life is, you've got to move on."
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow - UDP Queen's Square, 1984-2020
"I am sorry that it is an illness, it is an affliction that has laid him
low and so that his departure at this point is enforced. He has, and I
don't think he was joking - indicated in the house when was in relatively
good health, that he had no thoughts of retiring for this upcoming
election. So, it's a pity that he's been obliged to by illness. So, I
certainly hope for his recovery from the stroke."
Hon. John Briceno - Leader of the Opposition
"It is something that was expected. I met with him when he got back from
medical attention abroad. I saw his condition, and he, at that time, was
telling me that he is considering his options. He told me, it's taking a
lot of work, a lot of therapy. He's getting stronger every day. When I saw
him yesterday, I was very pleased with what I saw. I started to see a lot
of the old Said Musa, with that zest for life, that energy."
And that energy, the fighting spirit is what has always characterised Said
Musa, the battler:
Hon. Michael Finnegan
"Said is a warrior, Said is a soldier, if I was to go to war, I would want
him to be on my side."
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow
"He was absolutely tenacious, even when he was wrong, or even when I
thought he was wrong, he was tenacious. He clung to his positions with a
ferocity that had to be admired."
And Barrow also admires Musa for that time in 2019, when Musa didn't vote
along with his party on the ICJ matter:
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow
"And then in these closing, years in those closing months of his career I
cannot forget and I know the nation will not forget that he in fact had a
wonderful encounter with high principle, in the sense that despite the
position taken by his party he came out firmly in favour of a "yes" vote
with respect to the referendum on going to the ICJ. For him to do what he
did, stand on principle and disagree with his party was something that I
thought is absolutely, the stuff upon which congratulations should be
But confrontation, not congratulation is what mostly characterised the
relationship in parliament between Musa and Barrow:
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow
"I have to concede of course all Belize knows it that he and I have has our
epic struggles but I've got to say that personally, especially in the old
days, when I first knew him as a lawyer and even at the start of my
political career when we were on far better terms. I always found him to be
very affable, Said has a fine sense of humour and you always had the
conviction that he was not personal, he was not vindictive."
Hon. Michael Finnegan
"We remained friends over the years and I believe we are still friends at
this time but when it comes to out parliamentary duties in the house, he do
for his job, I do my job, we get after one another, we don't carry it too
far but we remain respectful to one another. I could remember one thing he
do with me a time, I was giving a speech on some bill, I don't remember the
quote but the quote was from the bible. When Said turn was to answer now,
when Said turn to answer, I had to buss out a laugh, Said look at me and
look at the speaker and said, you know madam speaker up to the devil quote
the bible (laugh) because he was a witty parliamentarian, he was a witty
debater, he was a tricky while debating and you have to be on your p and q
in order to handle him."
And as Musa, Finnegan and Barrow leave with a combined 97 years in
parliament, so ends an era of post-independence politics:
"It is the end of an era because you all have dominated post-independence
politics in Belize, and now that you all are departing both in 2020, it
signals that some new era is upon us."
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow
"Younger people who deserve their chance, who come with new skills, who are
from a different time in terms of, of the culture and in particular the
technological advances which provide the context in which they were
nurtured are being very much younger than Said is, and that I am. So, it is
as it should be, this is a rite of passage that is a part of life, the old
must always give way to the new. I think that certainly speaking for the
new leader of the UDP, there is no doubt in my mind, that he has what it
And the same for the man who took up Musa's mantle, now finally and fully
out of his shadow
Hon. John Briceno
"You know, you kinda are expecting this happen, and that [it] will happen.
But, when it happens, you still feel a sense of nostalgia, a sense of - you
know. Here is the life of this man that has done so much good for the PUP,
and for this country, Belize, saying to everybody, you know, it comes to an
76-year-old Said Musa has been a member of the PUP since the 1970s. He has served as the Prime Minister of Belize for two consecutive years (1998-2008). According to a release from the PUP yesterday Musa was quoted saying, “My love for the people of the Fort George constituency who elected me to serve them in these past eight elections remain undiminished. It has been my pleasure and honor to be your representative with much gratitude to you for all the love and affection shown to me.” End of quote. Like the old adage says, don’t wait until a man is dead to tell him he is good, we are conforming to that proverb as we took a look at Musa’s political career in a snapshot.
Michael Finnegan Remembers Musa’s Wittiness in the House
Speaking on Musa’s legacy and political influence was senior U.D.P. politician Michael Finnegan. Finnegan and Musa got into many heated debates across the political aisle inside the National Assembly building in Belmopan. They would exchange blows but never on a personal note. Finnegan recounts Musa’s wittiness in the House and his lasting contributions to Belize.
Michael Finnegan, Area Rep., Mesopotamia
“We remain friends over the years and I believe we are still friends at this time but when it comes to our parliamentary duties in the House, he does his job and I do my job. We go after one another. We don’t take it too far but we remain respectful to one another. I remember one thing he did with me one time. I was giving a speech on some bill and I got up and made a quote. I don’t remember the quote but the quote was from the bible. Said turn was to answer now when Said turn to answer, I had to burst out a laugh. Said looked at me and looked at the Speaker and said you know Madam Speaker up to the devil quotes the bible. That was funny to me and very witty because he was a witty parliamentarian. He was a witty debater. He was tricky while debating and you have to be on your p’s and q’s in order to handle him.”
Said Musa Making Remarkable Progress
And while Musa is stepping aside, he is not going anywhere. He still plans to stay involved in the division though his activities may be limited and not the typical knocking on doors that characterized his way of keeping in touch with his constituents. His son, Caribbean Shores Area Representative, Kareem Musa, says his father is making remarkable progress, health wise.
Kareem Musa, Area Rep., Caribbean Shores
“He is making remarkable stride in terms of his health. His mobility is improving. His voice is improving. Certainly it is going to be him for the first time beng on the sidelines. I want to thank the Belize people for all their prayers during these very tough times for him but I can tell you that his spirits remain very high. He is making excellent progress with his physiotherapy but he would want just communicate that to the Belizean people, how much he appreciates all the text messages, all the Whatsapp he has been getting and how much truly values the support of the Belizean people.
Former Prime Minister Said Musa had decided to step aside and resign from electoral politics. He has been recovering from a mild stroke. Musa made his announcement last week. P.U.P.’s Chairman Henry Charles Usher will take up the mantle for the P.U.P. in the Fort George Division which has been a stronghold for the party for decades. Usher has gigantic shoes to fill because Musa’s political career spanned more than four decades. He is a two-term prime minister and a fierce debater. He is incredibly witty, thinks on his feet and colleagues had to be in good form to tangle with him in the House of Representatives. So tonight we look at some of Musa’s fiercest moments inside the National Assembly and some while he gave speeches.
Hon. Said Musa will always be a legend to Belizeans Hon. Said Musa will always be a legend to Belizeans. His son Yasser Musa, gave us a brief summary of his dad's political career and to see the man through the eyes of a person that has loved and lived with him all their lives.
Re: Rt. Hon. Musa Steps Down
#545068 Yesterday at04:42 AMYesterday at04:42 AM
And, also saying farewell over the Independence Day weekend was former two term Prime Minister, Said Musa.
It was officially announced 2 weeks ago that the 76-year-old politician, and 8 term fort George Area Representative was stepping down after suffering a stroke in May. So, to honor his departure - which was enforced by his medical condition, the PUP held a virtual ceremony on September 20th.
That's when he gave his first public comments since May. Here's a small excerpt:
Rt. Hon. Said Musa - Retiring from Politics "I am honored to receive this award from the party. I thank the executive of the party. But I especially want to thank the Belizean people, especially the people of the Fort George division, with whom I've had a ren·dez·vous of history for the past 46 years, ever since I ran in the first general election in 1974, which incidentally, I lost. But, I came back roaring in 5 years-time in 1979 to a decisive victory in the Fort George, and we never looked back after that."
"In our case, we have journeyed, in my case, I have had this very challenging, very challenging and fulfilling political journey, inextricably bound with the people of the Fort George for the past 40+ years. I remember - well with COVID-19 and my present health condition, this has given me time for reflection. And I recall, vividly now, those heady days in the late '70s, when I was a privilege to work alongside the architect, the Father of Independence, George Price, as we struggled for Independence."
As we have reported, both Right Honourables Musa and Dean Barrow have both served 36 years in parliament - while Barrow has the longest term of continuous service, from 1984 to present.