By Marion Ali
The deadline for submissions for Leader of the People’s United Party (PUP) expired at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, and three persons are in the race for that position, while six are contending for the post of deputy party leader.
The three vying for leader are: Lake Independence Area Representative Cordel Hyde, former leader and Orange Walk Central Area Representative John Briceno, and recently departed leader and Freetown Area Representative Francis Fonseca.
John Briceno’s nomination was the first to be received at around 11:00 a.m. and he was nominated by seven of eight constituency chairmen who make up the party’s northern caucus – all except for Corozal South East.
Francis Fonseca’s nomination was next about two hours later. His support came from representatives of the west and south; while Cordel Hyde’s name was the last to enter at around 3:00 p.m. He got support from the chairmen of the Lake Independence, Port Loyola, Pickstock, Albert and Cayo Central committees.
Interestingly, Kareem Musa and Lisa Shoman, two other party heavyweights whose names were frequently called as likely prospects, did not enter their names.
Musa told the Reporter via text message on Wednesday that, “While I am very humbled by the support received, I felt that as a young representative I still have a lot to learn. I believe in the politics of earning your ‘stripes’. I have served my party and my people at many levels and at this time I feel that I could make the greatest impact as a deputy leader. That position has its own share of duties and responsibilities, but also affords me the opportunity to grow and the time to invest in my constituency.”
While he had been saying this since the November 4th General Elections, some still anticipated a last-minute change of heart from Musa.
But Musa did enter the race to hold the second most powerful position in the party. He is one of the six persons nominated for Deputy Leader. The other five are PUP Area Representatives for: Corozal South East, Florencio Marin Jr.; Orange Walk South, Jose Mai; Cayo South, Julius Espat; Toledo East, Mike Espat; and Stann Creek West, Rodwell Ferguson.
Other posts that are vacant include the National Communications Director, whose candidates are: Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Anthony and Emilio Zabaneh. National Campaign Manager, with only one nomination, goes to Victor Espat.
For Legal Advisor, the only nominee is Anthony Sylvestre Jr.; and for Treasurer, the only candidate is Ramon Cervantez.
For the post of Party Chairman, there are two candidates – Henry Usher and PUP Toledo West Area Representative, Oscar Requena.
Apart from submitting his name for party leader, Fonseca also submitted a list of names to fill all the vacant posts.
Usher confirmed that Briceno and Hyde, also had proposed slates but preferred to focus on the selection of a leader at the convention. The difference in proceedure will be addressed by the party’s National Party Council.
The next step leading into the January 31st Convention, will be the selection of 2,793 delegates, who will elect the party’s new leader.
Usher said that the party’s National Executive is overseeing the governance of the party for now, and that the Party Chairman is in charge until a leader is selected.