Headline — 19 February 2008 — by Adele Ramos
Briceño: “If we do not heed the voices of the people, those people who have put us so soundly in Opposition, then we will face the real risk of destroying the very party we have sworn to protect.”
 
Yasser: “Our next PUP leader will be chosen in a democratic process that is transparent, accountable and firmly rooted in a 57-year tradition. Our next leader will be chosen because he has demonstrated to be 100% loyal to the PUP Party, a man who is 100% PUP, and a servant of the people.”
 
by Adele Ramos
 
Orange Walk Central area representative, Johnny Briceño, of the Opposition People’s United Party, has sent a strong word of caution to party chairman, Francis Fonseca, advising that if the party does not seek to make voting more inclusive in the upcoming leadership convention slated for March 30, the party may run the risk of further demise.
 
In a letter dated Monday, February 18, 2008, Briceño tells Fonseca that he is supporting the requests made by PUP Lake I area representative Cordel Hyde and Albert area representative Mark Espat, who both wrote Fonseca on Thursday, February 14, requesting that (1) the number of PUP voting delegates allowed per constituency be increased from 1 rep for each 100 votes the candidate received in the last elections, to one rep for each 25 votes, and (2) that the list of voters be disclosed one week before the nomination date, which has already been set for this Friday, February 22.
 
Briceño wrote, in a letter to Fonseca, that, “I believe these requests, and the reasons given my colleagues in their letter to you, are valid.
 
“One of the accusations against the party recently has been that we have lost touch with our people, and increasing the number of delegates would insure participation by a far greater number of members and supporters.”
 
Last week Wednesday, the current PUP leader, Said Musa, met with top party executives and all 31 PUP candidates in the last elections to discuss the way forward. Musa is stepping down as soon as a new leader is elected from within the party.
 
Responding to our article of last Thursday, PUP public relations officer, Yasser Musa, said of Amandala, “Your article is an insult to our process and our people, including the delegates of the Albert and Lake Independence constituencies.”
 
Musa does not say exactly how we insulted the PUP process and people, and his rebuttal, furthermore, does not address the substantive issues – that is, how his party responds to the issues raised by his fellow PUPs, Briceño, Espat and Hyde, and whether their requests will be incorporated by the PUP before the leadership convention.
 
We note that after the reports of the Espat/Hyde letter to us on Thursday evening, we did try to reach Yasser Musa via cell phone for comment. As it did when we called him again today, the phone rang to his voicemail.
 
Yasser Musa strongly defends his party. In his letter to our newspaper, he says that, “The PUP is at a historic crossroads. Only three times, 1956, 1996 and now 2008, have we moved toward electing a new leader. This is an internal PUP process.”
 
While Espat and Hyde have expressed their concerns about the leadership convention, Briceño has also formally lodged his.
 
“As to the allegation of intimidation of delegates in an attempt to steer voting in a particular direction – I view it with concern, but am certainly not so naïve as to believe it has not been happening, or will not happen,” he wrote to Fonseca.
 
He goes on to say: “If we do not heed the voices of the people, those people who have put us so soundly in Opposition, then we will face the real risk of destroying the very party we have sworn to protect.”
 
Musa writes, in his response to Amandala, that the new leader will be 100% PUP and a servant of the people.
 
“Our next PUP leader will be chosen in a democratic process that is transparent, accountable and firmly rooted in a 57-year tradition. Our next leader will be chosen because he has demonstrated to be 100% loyal to the PUP Party, a man who is 100% PUP, and a servant of the people,” he said.
 
Briceño, Espat and Musa were three of seven men dubbed the G-7, who resigned from Cabinet in 2004, while making a series of demands of the Musa administration, the key one being that former Finance Minister Ralph Fonseca, the chairman’s first cousin, be removed from Cabinet.
 
It was only after the defeat of February 7, 2008, that PUP leader Musa and Ralph Fonseca resigned their posts within the PUP, making way for what Musa terms “new blood.”
 
The main prospects for Musa’s replacements are Francis Fonseca, Briceño and Espat; however, their candidacy won’t be formal until nomination day, slated for February 22. The convention is scheduled for Sunday, March 30.
 
Of note is that former Belmopan mayor, Anthony Chanona, who quit his position as PUP Senator last November, has also endorsed Espat, and sounded similar warnings as Briceño has.

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