The idea to have a debate among the three men vying for the leadership of the People’s United Party came about some weeks ago but had not been given much thought until early last week when the three candidates, Francis Fonseca, Cordel Hyde and John Briceno agreed to take part. Subsequent to that, a planning committee was put together and the search for moderators began. However, today, just four days before the Special Convention for the PUP, Glenn Tillett, via a press release, announced that the debate has been suspended. Love News spoke to Tillett on the basis of the suspension.
“Essentially we have reached the point where we could not move any further without a formal declaration by the candidates that they will be there because we were at the point where we had to accept money from people willing to sponsor to defray the expenses to secure the venue and there were several other logistical and infrastructural details we had to basically get done. A formal declaration by Mr. Briceno and Mr. Hyde had not been forthcoming by the end of the day yesterday so we decided that rather than to continue to wait we might as well suspend it because time is too short. We are like seventy two hours away from the scheduled time for the debate. There’s them media, you folks that we have to so to speak appease. You all have your own technical details you have to take care of and rather than put everyone in a position where we will have to be rushing pell mell around trying to secure this, I think we better just left it at that.”
Ordinarily, a debate would take months to plan for with a crucial aspect of it being the assurance to the participants that it was being done on a level playing field. Tillett spoke on how crucial this endeavor would have been for the party, which for some years now seem to be falling apart at the seams.
“The idea of the debate was first floated by Carolyn Trench Sandiford and it was discussed mostly on social media by people like Albert Vellos, the head of the PUP Youth Arm who at first tried to organize a debate. I jumped in on it because I thought it was a good idea. I thought it was a good opportunity for the gentlemen who aspired to be leaders of this country to be able to present their positions on some of the national issues that affect this country. I didn’t think it was so much a value for the supporters and members of the PUP even though it would be intrinsically. I thought that the fact that one of these men would end with probably the best chance at being the next prime minister of the country. That indeed before they make that next crucial step we as the citizens should be able to hear from them and to have a sense on their positions on some of these issues.”
While the debate will no longer be, the social media campaigns and debates continue despite appeals from the members of the PUP to fellow supporters that the slander and dirty campaigning cease. As we mentioned earlier, the election of a new leader for the People’s United Party is on Sunday, January 31 in Belmopan, Cayo District.