Twenty-one of 31 standard bearers of the People’s United Party (PUP) were present at today’s pivotal meeting of the National Executive and party standard bearers at Independence Hall in Belize City. Earlier this week, 12 standard bearers from across the country wrote PUP leader Francis Fonseca and chairman Henry Charles Usher demanding the immediate calling of a national convention, nationwide consultations to inform party policy and the restructuring of the National Executive. Ten of them were absent today; only two were present, Dr. Francis Smith of Pickstock and Major Lloyd Jones of Belize Rural North, and they have supported the ultimate decisions taken by the Executive. It appears the group has some of what it wants, but not all. Following the meeting, Fonseca told the press that a National Convention has been called for no later than the end of this year but said that it was agreed that his post would not be up for challenge.
The letter from our colleagues was tabled as a priority issue and following a frank honest and robust discussion, the following decisions were taken. One, a national convention which we had agreed to from our last joint meeting of standard bearers and our national executive on March eighteenth; we reaffirmed and confirmed that decision which was taken on March eighteenth at which we had twenty-eight of our standard bearers present and every single one of them signed off on that agreement and resolution for the holding of a national convention at the earliest, no later than the end of this year and that the post of party leader would not be open to challenge at that national convention.
But does that mean that Fonseca is afraid of challenge? He says no – the party had a chance to decide his fate and have, as they have since the start of this year, decided to keep him on.
I want to make it absolutely clear that I did this both at the last joint meeting of the standard bearers and the national executive and today again. I want to make it absolutely clear. I am not afraid of any convention. I have placed my leadership on the table; it is a matter for these bodies to then determine how best we move forward in the interest of our party; not anybody else’s agenda, not Mister Barrow’s agenda or anybody else’s agenda. I have made it absolutely clear to everyone in the party who was here today, that my leadership is on the table; they must determine what is in the best interest of the party. If they had decided that we needed to go to a contested convention so be it. That would have been the decision of the party. So I want to make it absolutely clear so that no mischief is made—because I know you’re mischievous—no mischief is made on that issue. That was tabled and the party had a robust discussion about it and the party voted on it. We voted on it twice and that is the decision of the national executive of the party. And I must say that at our very recent national party council in July fourth in Dangriga, that issue was again on the floor a unanimous support for the leadership of the party. So it is these individuals who you see here today who have asked me to continue to leader People’s United Party.
The party also agreed that it would continue its ongoing nationwide consultations in San Ignacio, then head south and up to the North before finishing up in Belize City. It will also take proposals on restructuring the National Executive ahead of the National Convention. As for the fate of the dissidents, chairman Henry Charles Usher says they will face no sanctions.
“No, none of that has come up today in the meeting. The leader continues to have a good faith relationship with all of the members who signed that letter. There’s no erosion of confidence there.”
“Sir I see two of the signatories here, Dr. Smith and Major Jones. I know the gentlemen can speak for themselves but with this format, is it that they are recanting, reneging on that signature? Or is it that there is now a common ground between them and the party?”
“Let me first say, I thank Dr. Smith and Major Jones for coming this afternoon and letting their positions be heard to the other members of the national executive and the other standard bearers. I think it was important for them to come and to let all us of here what their position is and why they put their signature to that letter. I believe as you said, they can answer for themselves – however, they did support the positions taken today, to hold a national convention at the earliest possible date. To hold a uncontested national convention for the party leader and also for the nation wide consultation to begin this Sunday in Cayo.”
The “Power to the People” Tour meets at Teodosio Ochoa Park in San Ignacio on Sunday.