In our recent coverage of the upcoming Special National Convention we have been able to meet up with Cordel Hyde and John Briceno for interviews on the leadership race as Francis Fonscea had not been open to the media. Today, however as he attended the wreath laying ceremony for George Price, he entertained some questions from the media. As it relates to the upcoming national convention, he says that he believes the entire process is a healthy one despite the slander and hostility that is being engaged in by some supporters.
FRANCIS FONSECA: “Any internal battle or skirmish as you describe it is a little painful because you are fighting within your family so that it is always difficult, it is always challenging but I certainly believe that at the process that we are engaged in now leading to the election of a new party leader on January 31, I believe is a healthy one. Yes it is difficult and challenging and it often gets personal but I think at the end of the day it is a healthy exercise, I think it will be a positive exercise for the party and I believe very firmly based on my discussion with party supporters and members from across the country that we will emerge from that convention, a more united party, a stronger party, a more focused party. I believe whoever emerges as the leader of the party will have a mandate for unity.”
As for the progress of his campaign for leadership, Fonseca says he has a strong team and that his campaign is going fairly well.
FRANCIS FONSECA: “I am the only candidate that has been able to put together a national team from North to South, East to West but we believe we have a good strong team but at the end of the day, the delegates of the party will decide on January 31. We have almost three thousand delegates, they will make the right decision and all of us in the party will respect that decision but I certainly feel good where our campaign is, we have sixteen days to go and so we have a lot of work remaining but we feel very good and confident about where we are now.”
This upcoming convention is not the first time that Briceno and Fonseca are competing with each other for leadership as back in 2008 Briceno outdid Fonseca in the convention for leadership. Today, Fonseca was asked if he is concerned that Briceno may just be able to garner the support of the majority of delegates. Fonseca got poetic in his response saying that the sun is beginning to rise on the PUP.
FRANCIS FONSECA: “But I think there is a significant difference between 2008 and now. I have been the leader for the past four years. In 2008 in many respects I was the candidate of the establishment and certainly following a massive defeat in 2008 there was a strong undercurrent for change. I sense in the party that people want reform, changes but people feel that we inherited if you like, a ship that was in a hurricane, they believe we have stabilized that ship. It is still surrounded, we are still in choppy waters, there are still holes in the ship that we need to plug but people feel that we are certainly in a position where we can see the land beyond the horizon where the sun is beginning to rise once again on the People’s United Party. Yes people are disappointed that we have lost elections but people I think by and large the supporters of the party understand the circumstances under which we have lost those elections.”
In a previous interview with John Briceno we found that he was actually under minded by his very same colleagues in the party and was somewhat pushed out of the party due to the negativity that surrounded him. One of those acts to under mind is believed to be the now defunct newspaper, National Perspective. Fonseca was asked about this issue.
Reporter: In 2008 we saw this situation where you stayed back, congratulated Mr. Briceno at the convention, you shook hands with him, you gave a concession speech but then we saw Mr. Musa walk out. He was one of your key supporters and I don’t think he ever made peace with Mr. Briceno leadership, in fact, the was a newspaper one recalls in which there were hundreds of thousands of dollars spent to undermine we believe the leadership of Mr. Briceno. Might we see a replay of that where you have acted in a certain way, in a concilliary appeasing way then other functionaries of the old guard against the man who is not their candidate.
Francis Fonseca: “No. I think there is no factual basis to your question Jules. I don’t accept at all that Mr. Musa had any animosity towards John Briceno or that he was behind somehow that newspaper. That’s propaganda that we’re hearing now even in this campaign and that is simply not true. Yes I am aware of the newspaper, I saw it once or twice but certainly Mr. Musa has been one of my closest friends and allies in politics. I have worked with him for many years. If he was behind any of those things I would have known. Certainly in terms of my very own position I want to be very clear, just as I did in 2008, whoever emerges the leader of the party on January 31; I am confident that it will be me, but if it is not and delegates choose another leader, that leader will have my unqualified support.”
The amount of delegates that will be voting in the upcoming convention stands at just over three thousand seven hundred.