Is the People’s United Party moving forward?

Posted: Thursday, December 24th, 2015. 3:40 p.m. CST

Francis Fonseca

Francis Fonseca

By BMG Staff: The People’s United Party’s (PUP) leadership convention is scheduled for today, January 31st. For the PUP, the convention should serve as a catalyst to unite the divided factions of the party; to rejuvenate and invigorate its grass roots people-centered ideologies; to create a new path and lead a new way forward; instead, the only three people contesting for leadership are familiar faces.

Cordell Hyde recently completed his successful return to electoral politics by thrashing Mark King in Lake Independence and has been gaining momentum in his bid for leader as many within the party feel he could be exactly what the party is looking for.

Johnny Briceno, a former leader of the PUP (2008-2011), has also entered his name as a candidate and in the recent election continued to show his dominance in Orange Walk Central. Briceno beat Francis Fonseca for the party’s leadership then later stepped down in October 2011 without leading the party into a general election citing health issues leaving many to speculate his departure was orchestrated behind the scenes by the heads of the party.

Fonseca was then elected as leader of the party that same year and has led the PUP to two general election defeats, two municipal election defeats and two by-election defeats triggered by the abrupt resignations of Joseph Mahmud and Ivan Ramos.

At the time of the resignations, Fonseca’s leadership came into question, though neither Mahmud or Ramos stated this was the reason for their decisions. There was also speculations that money may have been a motivating factor for each man to resign. A recording later surfaced in which senior United Democratic Party (UDP) member Melvin Hulse made allegations supporting that theory. Still, the abrupt resignations of two sitting members of parliament just months apart was an unprecedented development.

In the midst of all the confusion the PUP seemed to be fracturing even further with public bickering and infighting. Some members of the party even openly questioned Fonseca’s leadership. The drama culminated with the emergence of the “G11” (an ode to the G7 under Said Musa’s tenure as Prime Minister) – a group of 11 key party members who boycotted several meetings and called for Fonseca to put his leadership status up for contention. This group of 11 also included Briceno and Hyde.

Now those two have made known their desires to take the reigns of the party. All three men, however, have been attached to some scandal or the other in the past and many have argued that the election of either man is a step backward, rather than forward.

Fonseca had announced his intention to retire from politics at the completion of his current term as area representative for Freetown. His decision was announced following November’s general elections in which the PUP made history for being the first party in the country to lose three consecutive elections since Independence. Since then Fonseca has had a change of heart and is once again vying to be the leader of the PUP.

The PUP, cash-strapped and segmented, is looking for a charismatic leader who can unite the factions and inspire confidence in financiers while drawing the masses back to the party that once was the most winning-est party in Belize. Only time will tell how this seemingly never ending saga unfolds.

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