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The PUP division in the national assembly

Posted: Monday, April 15, 2019. 3:23 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: It could be argued that their vote made little difference; indeed, one of them even said so. But it cannot be denied that the decisions of former Prime Minister Said Musa, in the House of Representatives on Friday, and Senator Valerie Woods, in the Senate today, to abstain from the final vote on the Belize (Territorial Dispute) Referendum Bill, 2019, boosted Government morale.

The People’s United Party (PUP), of which both are members, was not clear in its position on the issue even five years after birthing the Special Agreement signed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Washington in December of 2008.

And while Leader of the Opposition John Briceno began on the side of a yes vote, he was swayed slowly over to the ‘no’ side by a combination of circumstances: the advocated positions of the party’s 4 southern district representatives; the changed position of Senate Leader and another former Foreign Minister, Eamon Courtenay; and the rise of a solid ‘no’ bloc across the country.

Meanwhile, Senior Counsel Lisa Shoman has lined up with the ‘YES’ proponents and compounded that by deciding to represent the Prime Minister and others in a court case filed by five fellow P.U.P. parliamentarians and a standard bearer which resulted in a still-standing interim injunction.

Briceno told reporters on Thursday, before Friday’s debate, that the party had reached “consensus” not to support the bill, after believing that the Government might choose to go with a motion to proceed under Section 2 (1) (a) of the Referendum Act, which it had signaled support for.

 Musa, who Briceno said was at court, could not attend the Thursday meeting, but Woods did.

Other prominent P.U.P. supporters who have spoken in favor of a ‘YES’ vote include former columnists and writers Glenn Tillett and G. Michael Reid, particularly on Facebook.

 The party is expected to announce its plans in the near future.


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