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Feb 21, 2005

PUP looks for bounce from a rousing convention

Story PictureAfter enduring six months of attacks from within and without, the Peoples United Party finally received a much needed boost this weekend. It took the form of a national convention that was noteworthy for both its size and ability to avoid internal acrimony. Official estimates were not available but the sea of blue and white marching through Santa Elena, Cayo, demonstrated that the P.U.P., despite its problems, could still motivate the faithful. The convention itself held little in the way of drama, the important decisions having been made the day before at a meeting of the National Party Council. A last minute amendment to the constitution had increased the number of deputy leaders from two to three, and when the voting was over the three top candidates were Godfrey Smith with one hundred and twelve votes, Johnny Briceño with ninety-nine and Vildo Marin with ninety-eight. Rounding out the field were: Mike Espat-fifty-seven votes, Jose Coye-forty-five and Sylvia Flores-thirty-five. The tally was an obvious career booster for Smith, a member of the P.U.P. class of 98, who already holds the cabinet portfolios of Foreign Affair and Tourism. News 5′s Stewart Krohn asked him about plans for the future.

Godfrey Smith, Deputy Leader, P.U.P.
?In essence, to work closely with the other Deputy Party Leaders, the new chairman, the Prime Minister and the government to ensure that the reform measures set out in the various plans we?ve been working on over the past few weeks, materialised and in good time. That?s on the government side. And on the party side, obviously to keep strengthening, mobilising and energising our party. We have a municipal election next year in 2006 so we treat this convention here today as the beginning of our campaign towards 2006 and 2009.?

Stewart Krohn
?Things have been a little bit rough, public relations wise for the Peoples United Party for the last month or so. The crowd here today was–even by P.U.P. standards–pretty big. Do you see this as symbolising some kind of a reaction by the P.U.P. and you?re going to take the offensive now instead of being of the defensive??

Godfrey Smith
?We have never doubted that we have the support of the Peoples United Party supporters. We have always known that. It doesn?t mean that we take for granted the concerns and cries for reform that we hear outside of the P.U.P. But we have always known that we have a massive support that we were elected by some fifty-three thousand P.U.P. supporters that that support remains firm. While we know that of course, as you are well aware, we have been working over the past few weeks on an agenda for reform and we plan to stick with that and see through.?

Stewart Krohn
?Going into this campaign for the deputy leadership of the party, the word was that you were the Prime Minister?s choice even though he himself remained publicly neutral. A, was that case and B, are you looking forward to try to use your present status to gain the Deputy Prime Minister Leadership??

Godfrey Smith
?First of all, I am not aware that the Prime Minister had any choice and he certainly didn?t say so to anybody. In relation to using this influence for Deputy Prime Minister, no. This was about Deputy Party Leadership within the Peoples United Party. The issues of who is Deputy Prime Minister is entirely a different matter and entirely a matter for the Prime Minister in his sole discretion.?

Speeches by area representatives and other key party officials largely addressed themselves to the subject of party unity. One notable exception was the speech made by incoming party chairman Francis Fonseca, in which he warned against arrogance and corruption and urged party members to hold their leaders accountable. Fonseca also emphasized the need for the P.U.P. to return to its roots as a party of social justice.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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