PUP says no excuses for by-election defeat

With Monday’s UDP victory, the PUP’s might in the House of Representatives is dented, and its momentum going into the municipal elections in March seems to be halted. The PUP’s leader, Francis Fonseca, says the party will make no excuses, and congratulated his opponents at a press briefing on Tuesday for their decisive win. It is now time, he said, for the party to evaluate itself and fix any problems it has as the election cycle heats up.

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vlcsnap-2015-01-07-06h14m25s88Hon. Francis Fonseca – Opposition Leader

The UDP won a clear, decisive victory yesterday. 

I think the people have commented about the turnout.  I think the turnout was fair, very reasonable turnout, and there are no excuses.  We have to now evaluate ourselves, look at everything that took place in Cayo North, look at ourselves as a party, and determine what went wrong in Cayo North.  What can we do to fix those problems that arose in Cayo North, [and] make sure that they are not existing in other areas in the party. 

We have to look at everything, and as the leader of the People’s United Party, I take ownership and full responsibility for the loss, and I have to look at myself.  What can I do better?  Should I be doing more?  How can we strengthen whatever units and arms of the party we need to strengthen, to make the PUP more effective?  What are we doing in terms of our message as a party? Is that message getting across to the people of Belize, is it getting across to the people of Cayo North?  If we don’t have enough resources, how can we ensure that we have adequate resources to fight these battles?”

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Francis Fonseca reiterated his confidence in the electorate to return the PUP to power in the towns and cities and nationally, saying that the division was “isolated” from the national pendulum, which he contends is swinging against the UDP and toward the PUP.

A formal report will be submitted to the party’s next National Executive meeting due later this week. And as for the man who started all of this – ex-representative Joseph Mahmud – Mr Fonseca says the blue will not waste any more time on him.

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Francis Fonseca

“Mr Mahmud, as I have said consistently, made a decision to effectively abandon the voters of Cayo North.  He was elected two years ago by them , and he made that decision.  It may have been a deeply personal decision.  I don’t want to get into that. but there’s nothing for me or the People’s  United Party to gain from focusing on Mr Mahmud, what he did or what he did not do. 

The reality is that he resigned that seat.  He caused a by-election to take place, by that resignation, and we have now lost that by-election.  We now have to move on in Cayo North and elsewhere in the Party.  We have to move on to see how we can now strengthen ourselves in Cayo North, but also in other Divisions, to ensure, whenever the General Elections are called, that we are victorious.  I have every absolute confidence that we are in a position to do so.”

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Francis Fonseca did spare time to comment on the disparity of resources between the major parties, saying that efforts toward campaign finance reform must be bipartisan.

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Francis Fonseca

“I really believe that we have to walk the path towards that type of campaign financial form, but it has to be bipartisan.  We have to do it together.  We are certainly prepared to do so.  We’ve talked about it.  We have internally prepared certain proposals for ourselves.  We’ve talked about it in our manifesto.  We’re prepared to do so.

The reality is there’s no incentive when you’re in Government to do it.  So, I think we have to find a way to get both parties, the Opposition Party and the Governing Party, to understand the importance, and that will have to come from the Belizean people. 

Many people will say,  when we talk about these things, ‘Well the PUP did it, the UDP did it,’ and that’s a fair statement, but  I see public funds being used for election purposes in an unprecedented way today in Belize.  I don’t think it bodes well for politics.  I don’t think it bodes well for democracy, for the development of our country, because effectively you’re isolating a huge percentage of your population, when you concentrate public funds on political supporters only.”      

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Richard Harrison is not expected to continue as the party’s standard bearer in the division, but a formal decision is expected at the National Executive meeting.

The PUP’s post-Independence record in by-elections is 1-2, winning Freetown in 1993 and losing Cayo South after the death of Agripino Cawich in 2003.
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