By Marion V. Ali
People’s United Party (PUP) Deputy Leader Julius Espat told the Reporter this week he does not intend to vie for the party’s leadership, despite encouragement from a number of colleagues and media buzz that he was one of the likely candidates.
This week, Espat confirmed nothing has changed about his position. In a text message, he said: “Yes, I have been encouraged by some of my colleagues, but at this time I will concentrate my energies in my constituency.”
Espat has said his constituents expended a great deal of energy into his re-election and they now deserve his time. “I think this time I need to spend a lot more time with them and fight their issues, which are really important issues”, he shared with us previously.
Three weeks ago, Espat indicated he was interested in seeing unity in the PUP, and reorganization. He also indicated that the person who takes up the leadership role has to be someone capable of achieving these tasks.
When he spoke with reporters then, Espat did not outrightly say he would not compete, but did indicate he was reluctant to put his name in the race. Yet still, it was not a definite answer. “That doesn’t mean no. I am a loyal PUP. I am just more loyal to my people in Cayo South right now”, he said at that time.
Since those remarks, four other big names have emerged as potential leaders for the PUP: former leader John Briceno; Kareem Musa, son of former two-time Prime Minister Said Musa; three-time Lake Independence Area Representative Cordel Hyde; and Senator Lisa Shoman, a former Ambassador to the United States and former Foreign Affairs Minister, whose intention to run for the leadership position was revealed in last week’s edition of the Reporter.
Whoever assumes leadership of the PUP will have several issues to confront, including formulating a sound plan to raise funds for the cash-strapped party; conducting cross-country visits to garner momentum; and creating a solid plan to unite the party which, up until a few weeks before the General Elections, was still divided.
Those interested have until December 15th to indicate to PUP Chairman, Henry Usher, their intention to run at a National Convention set for January 31st, at a place and time to be announced.