Following a five-hour National Executive meeting at PUP headquarters on Wednesday, PUP National Campaign Manager, Godfrey Smith announced that Francis Fonseca had been unanimously endorsed as Party Leader, safe from any challenge.
According to Smith, the Executive, Parliamentary Caucus and Standard Bearers present, 38 of them, all support Fonseca’s continued presence at the helm as the PUP struggles to shake off the of a devastating defeat at the polls on March 4th.
It’s a significant development for the People’s United Party, which has struggled to right itself following a loss in 2008 elections and consecutive losses thereafter. Fonseca’s leadership has come under attack recently because it is perceived in some quarters that he has been unable to unite the party into a viable and credible opposition. Recently, too, there has been a call for a National Convention of the party, which inevitably would subject the leader and other key position-holders to challenge.
But there will be no challenge. Godfrey Smith announced that PUP Leader Francis Fonseca put his leadership on the table, and all 38 members present for the session asked him to take it off. There will be a National Convention, said Smith, but “the view was expressed that there should be a going back to the people in a robust convention, to get them ready for the general election.
None of the leaders felt that there should be a leadership contest.” So whenever that Convention is called, it will be only to endorse Francis Fonseca.
Fonseca’s seat is safe, but where does that leave other key members of the party? Prior to the meeting, it was widely speculated that there would be a shake-up of the party. The Reporter has been able to confirm that Lake Independence Standard Bearer, Cordel Hyde has been offered the position of Deputy Leader, to replace Carolyn Trench-Sandiford. There is also credible information suggesting that Chairman, Henry-Charles Usher is being pushed out.
But there was no official confirmation of any change. According to Smith, there was no discussion of any change at the session, but there will be ongoing sessions in the days ahead. He did tell the media that those matters are internal party matters, and will be handled as such.
Wednesday’s announcement was made with the Party Leader flanked by 38 members of the PUP, but Orange Walk Central powerhouse, John Briceño was conspicuously absent. Smith played politician, claiming that Briceño is an asset to the PUP and will be there to help them win the next general elections. But persons close to Briceño told the Reporter that his absence was deliberate.
National Campaign Manager, Godfrey Smith says that the party will be going on a retreat around the Easter holidays to strategize for the road ahead.