Let’s face it: many of us made a huge mistake in foretelling that Hon. Francis Fonseca would emerge victorious as PUP Party Leader last Sunday 31 January at their convention in Belmopan. In our defense, however, we have to state that all indicators pointed in this direction, i.e. the open support pledged by several PUP standard bearers and the fact that Hon. Hyde would have diluted the votes that may have otherwise gone to Hon. Briceño. Imagine the size of the spread if Hyde had stepped down! Then again, from now on its best I leave all predictions to the better informed, especially as it concerns the People’s United Party.
Really and truly, then, congratulations are in order to the new PUP Party Leader; he did what most thought was not possible, and with his full slate to boot. What now seems impossible is the cry for unity in the PUP, no matter how much lip service they give the word. But before I go there, let me share what some UDP supporters are commenting: they would have preferred Fonseca at the helm of the PUP since this would have given the UDP an extra edge in the next Generals.
Let’s continue with the topic of unity, or lack thereof, within the PUP. It comes across loud and clear that some factions in the old guard of their Party have no intention to make any attempt to embrace John Briceño as their leader. Firstly he does not like the old guard (or is it the other way around?), and secondly he is from an “out- district”. Twice they have tried to send him packing and twice they lost. They even brought back the old man from the grave to endorse Fonseca; a desperate effort which seems to have paid no dividends.
We can already see the Party’s disunity in the news. You will recall when a reporter asked Hon. Requeña if he will support Briceño as Leader of the Opposition in the House, this gentleman gave an elusive answer that the PUP parliamentarians would have to meet to formulate their position on that issue. To think that this was only a few minutes after Briceño had been declared the new Party Leader!
These guys truly don’t respect each other, and want to have their way in maintaining the status quo in the PUP no matter what. Before you start railing with me that this is none of my business, I have two things to say. Firstly, the PUP is a mass political Party that seeks to form Government and manage the affairs of our state. Secondly, and I have said this many times, it is extremely important for our democracy to have a healthy Opposition, no matter which Party is in power.
Although many UDP supporters, including me, may like what they see as an eternal tug of war within the PUP, we have to look at the broader picture: there must be a check and balance in the corridors of Parliament. Of course I would want the UDP to get a good replacement for Hon. Barrow and be successful in the 2020 elections, but we will still need an Opposition that is ready, willing and able to keep a watchful eye on things. As to the 2020 elections regarding the replacement for Hon. Barrow as UDP Party Leader, don’t you think he has placed the bar too high with his performance as Prime Minister? Mein, 2019 will be an interesting time for the UDP.