BELMOPAN, Tues. Mar. 8, 2016–Following his January 31, 2016 victory in the leadership convention for the Opposition People’s United Party, Orange Walk Central area representative, Hon. Johnny Briceño, has assumed the seat of former Opposition Leader Francis Fonseca in Parliament.
That was not the only change in the PUP’s parliamentary seating arrangement evident today—in fact, the change which drew commentary from the other side of the floor was the decision by Briceño to seat PUP Lake I area representative Cordel Hyde right next to him—a seat formerly occupied by immediate past leader, Rt. Hon. Said Musa, who was seated fourth in line today, with Fonseca being designated the third seat in the front row as immediate past leader of the PUP.
Of note is that Briceño and Hyde were two of seven members of the Musa Cabinet who in 2004 established a rival faction which briefly resigned in protest against the financial policies of the then administration after calling for reforms and the resignation of then finance minister Ralph Fonseca.
Briceño had resigned again in 2007, after the then deputy leader received information that Musa would have downgraded his portfolio. The following year, there was a change in administration and after the PUP lost at the polls, Briceño soon after became the new leader of the PUP. However, he stepped down in 2011. At the end of January 2016, Briceño was re-elected to serve as head of the PUP, after defeating Hyde and Fonseca in the PUP leadership race.
Meanwhile, two elected officials who ran on Briceño’s slate were also seated prominently in the front row today: Stann Creek West area representative Rodwell Ferguson, who is the new deputy leader – south, and Orange Walk South area rep Jose Mai, who is now deputy leader – north. Mai and Ferguson take the lead seats as deputies, and after them were seated Cayo South area rep Julius Espat – deputy leader west (of the Fonseca camp), and Kareem Musa, deputy leader east – son of ex-Prime Minister Said Musa.
The younger Musa, who won the Caribbean Shores constituency in the last general election, has thus moved up from the backbench, where he was seated at the last House meeting. That seat is now occupied by Toledo West area representative Oscar Requeña, who was flanked today by Corozal South East area rep, Florencio Marin, Jr., and Cayo North East area rep Orlando Habet.
The Opposition has a total of 12 seats in the House of Representatives.