Elections to determine new leadership, and a new direction for the People’s United Party were held last Sunday in Belmopan with far-reaching results.
Mr. Johnny Briceño, emerged the winner by a modest margin over Mr. Francis Fonseca and Mr. Cordel Hyde. But he not only won as Party Leader. His slate of candidates: Mr. Henry Usher as Chairman, Mr. Jose Mai as Deputy Party Leader North, Mr. Rodwell Ferguson as Deputy Party Leader South, and Mr. Anthony Mahler as Communications Director all won.
It was a clean sweep!
The victory says a lot for the energizing abilities of the new Leader, his charisma with the voters; his ability to draw people to the party and to himself and to inspire them to go to work.
Delegates at last Sunday’s Belmopan convention spent on average three hours under a relentless sun, for the honour of voting at their party’s leadership convention. Some 2,753 delegates, representing the power and authority of the Party in Belize, showed up.
It was a long, hot day, and the careful and deliberate counting took three hours. But it was exhilirating and exciting and it showed Belizean democracy at its best.
It was the first day of rebuilding the People’s United Party from its roots up: a day full of promise because sometime, sooner or later, this party will become the Government of Belize.
Its first step or course, will be to obtain consensus on the way forward. Mr. Briceño has been saying that the UDP under Mr. Dean Barrow has been leading the country along the wrong path. He will now have his chance to come forward with good ideas and energetic leadership.
No one is expecting that the future of the party will be smooth. But it is full of promise. No one expects that the differences which have divided the leadership will go away on their own, because they will not. But there is now a reasonable expectation that there will be a coming together of minds free from self-interest and egotistical bias, and that reason will prevail.
Belize needs the PUP in order for democracy to grow and flourish. The PUP needs honest leadership to carry forward the momentum achieved last Sunday in Belmopan.
Mr. Briceño in his acknowledgement speech Sunday night pledged that he would work earnestly for consensus and unity. He would reach out to those rivulets of his party which have not joined the main stream, and invite them to do so.
He also warned that those who are still unwilling to accept the authority of the party should not expect to continue to be a part of the party.
That seems to be a good measure of the mood of the country at this time.
We trust that in the National Assembly the Government Bench and the Speaker will recognize the grass roots change that has taken place in the PUP and will treat the new Leader with the courtesy and ligitimacy that are his entitlements.
It will be the responsibility of the PUP Caucus in the House of Representatives to inform the House officially through the Speaker of the change in command that has taken place. The Governor-General by formal letter should also be informed since he is the representative of the Sovereign.
These measures should be taken for the smooth working of our parliamentary democracy and for setting the tone for dignified House Meetings in the future.