BELMOPAN, Belize, October 19, 2011 – The search is on for a new leader of the People’s United Party (PUP) after John Briceño officially resigned as Opposition Leader Tuesday and the top contender for the post said he is not interested.
Mark Espat had been serving as PUP’s interim leader since Briceño relinquished the party post almost two weeks ago.
Espat has already been endorsed by all but one constituency, however, he told party officials the demands on him are too much to lead the 61-year-old institution at this time.
According to media reports, the interim leader has not been able to secure financing for a multi-million dollar plan for party operations ahead of the next general elections.
The party owes BZD$5 million dollars, reports indicated, and requires an additional $10 million.
Espat stated in a release: “I informed members of the National Executive and the Standard Bearers of the People’s United Party of my final decision not to seek the post of Party Leader. I am profoundly grateful for the numerous expressions of support for my leadership from Standard Bearers, party branches, party members and from the general citizenry of Belize.
“…Working along with our Deputy Leaders and National Executive and in conformity with our Constitution, the Party will proceed with the election of a substantive Party Leader in the shortest possible timeframe.”
This is said to be the first time in Belize’s parliamentary history that a leader of the opposition has stepped down with no immediate successor in place.