Headline — 15 December 2015 — by Rowland A. Parks
PUP “old guard” wants Francis Fonseca to remain as Leader

BELIZE CITY, Mon. Dec. 14, 2015–Tomorrow, Tuesday, is the deadline for the submission of applications for those Opposition People’s United Party members, supporters and parliamentarians who want to fill the various executive positions in the party, including that of party leader, at the upcoming PUP National Convention scheduled for 28 January, 2016.

The surprise coming out of the PUP on Friday, December 11, however, is that former Party Leader Francis Fonseca reportedly has been asked by some parliamentarians to consider running for party leader in the convention.

Two days after the PUP’s general election defeat, on November 6, Fonseca resigned as PUP leader, saying, “I am a very young man. I am still in my forties, but I think that I will have to find another way to contribute to the development of Belize. I will of course serve out my term working for the people of Freetown, but I do not intend to seek re-election.”

A member of the PUP’s Order of Distinguished Service (ODS), Silky Stuart, told Amandala this evening that he does not see the logic of a Francis Fonseca run for party leader at this time.
The present reality of the PUP, according to political observers, is that it has five years to “reinvent itself” to make it electable to the majority of Belizean voters. In that reinvention process, the party will have to decide if it wants a return to its social justice roots or if it wants to continue with the neo-liberal policies that defined the Said Musa/Ralph Fonseca era from 2003 to 2012, of which Francis Fonseca was a part, they believe.

Prior to the November 4 general elections, the PUP leadership of Fonseca was beset by its own internal struggles, and it entered the general elections period making a concession to a group of eleven breakaway parliamentarians that the party would hold a National Convention in which the party leader’s position could be challenged.

That was a departure from the earlier position that Fonseca’s leadership position was not up for challenge, even though the party has not had a National Convention for almost five years, in violation of its own Constitution.

After its defeat at the polls by the Dean Barrow-led United Democratic Party, Fonseca promptly resigned as party leader, but indicated that he would stay on during the transition period until a new PUP leader was installed.

Fonseca’s resignation announcement opened the door for other PUP leaders and executive members to aspire to lead the party.

Names of persons who were aspiring to lead began to surface; most notable were Cordel Hyde, who had demolished his UDP opponent at the polls after sitting out the elections of March 2012; John Briceño, the Orange Walk Central area representative, who has been impressively winning his seat for the fourth consecutive time; newcomers Kareem Musa, who won in Caribbean Shores for the first time and Julius Espat, who is on his second term as area representative for Cayo South; and Senator Lisa Shoman, who has not been tested electorally as yet.

As the nomination date drew closer, however, Musa and Espat indicated that they would not submit their names for party leader, leaving Hyde, Briceño and Shoman, to slug it out in an attempt to capture the majority of the estimated 3,000 voter/delegates who will cast ballots for all of the party’s executive positions.

And now those considering the run for leadership must also factor in the possibility that Fonseca, who reportedly is being encouraged by others to run, might very well do so.

Amandala tried to get someone from the PUP on record this evening, but all of our calls to the Party Chairman, Henry Charles Usher, went unanswered.

We also tried calling Hon. Francis Fonseca himself, and a number of PUP executives, but all of our calls went unanswered.

In a text to 7News on Friday, however, Fonseca said that he is “obliged to consider [the nomination] given my respect for those involved, but no decision taken [as yet].”

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