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Sep 9, 2020

Former Prime Minister Said Musa Retires from Politics

Said Musa

After forty years in political life, of the nation, Said Musa announced his retirement on Tuesday. The two-term prime minister and area representative of the Fort George Division wrote to his constituents and the P.U.P. to say it was time to exit. He did it at his own timing and with his usual grace giving way to a new face in the division where he won election after election, only losing once.  Said Musa, started his political life in 1974 to become one of the most impactful leaders of our time. News Five’s Hipolito Novelo looks at his life in politics in the following report.


Hipolito Novelo reporting

That was a young and charismatic Said Musa at the People’s United Party national convention in 1989  Musa is a gargantuan public figure who began his political career pre-independence and fought and won many battles along the way showing the  strength and saavy of a man who has dominated political life for decades.  He represented the Fort George Division for ten terms, and held various portfolios such as Sports, Education, Economic Development, Attorney General  and Foreign Affairs, Musa announced his departure from the political life on Tuesday. The two- time prime minister suffered a stroke in May from which he is still recovering.


John Briceño, Leader, P.U.P.

John Briceño

“This was a personal decision by the former Party Leader and Prime Minister. As we all know in May he had an unfortunate health issue. He had a slight stroke so he had not gotten to his old self. He has improved considerably, as you saw in the pictures yesterday. He looks a lot stronger but I think he felt that it is time for him to retire, not to resign from electoral politics. And it is obvious that it would have been very difficult for him to run in these conditions. So he is doing the right thing. And at the same time giving the party, not him, an opportunity to choose another candidate that can best represent the people of Fort George and that can best deliver that seat for the People’s United Party.”


Prior to Musa delving into politics, Musa began making a name for himself in the late 1960s along with senior parliamentarian Michael Finnegan. Musa co-founded the Ad Hoc Committee for the Truth About Vietnam. He picketed the showing of The Green Berets, an American film.


Michael Finnegan

Michael Finnegan, Area Rep. Mesopotamia

“We picketed against the movie which was portraying the Vietnam war and that is the way it went. I am glad to see my friend going. I know the people in Fort George Division will miss but that is the what life is. You have to move on.”


Musa won the Fort George seat for the PUP in 1979 and was only defeated once after that by the UDP’s former Leader the late Dean Lindo in 1984. But that defeat made Musa a stronger candidate.


Michael Finnegan

“In 1984 when the PUP suffered their first defeat, the man who brought back the PUP from dying was Said Musa you know. He was not the leader of the opposition or anything you know. He was a mere member of the party but he was the defacto leader of the party. George Price was the facial leader of the party and the leader by name but it was Said Musa who fought throughout that whole five years. In five years the PUP recaptured the government in 1989. When they loss again in 89, one of the most dynamic opposition I have witnessed in the country of Belize besides Philip Goldson and Dean Barrow was the Said Musa opposition between the 1993 and 1998 UDP government. Said is a warrior. Said is a soldier. If I was to go to war I would want him to be on my side because he knows how to shoot good and he also knows how to take an extreme punch.”


Musa ascended to the leadership of the PUP in 1996 and led his party to landslide victories in 1998 and 2003. 


Musa served two terms as Prime Minister and stepped down as Party Leader in 2008. And as we look back at his impactful career, we are reminded of fierce debater he was in the House of Representatives, leaving us with memorable quotes. Throughout his political life, and even now, Musa was magnetic. His charismatic approach to issues and people gave him an attractive quality, unique only to him. He was an excellent orator, leaving his audience filled with hope.


Kareem Musa

Kareem Musa, Area Rep., Caribbean Shores

“I don’t think I can’t ever match up to him, Hipolito. He is an incredible speech giver. He delivers some of the most remarkable speeches, some of the best sound bytes that we are all are familiar with. Noh Watch Me, Watch Yoself. Those sound bytes are just amazing and so he always knows how to pause, when to deliver  and so looking at him not just in the TV but a couple seats down in the House of Representatives, I am still awestruck. I am still mesmerize that the charisma that he has and his ability orate and to deliver some of the most spectacular speeches to the Belizean people.”


During his time in government and as Prime Minister Musa built relationships across borders, meeting with the late Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, and the Late Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro and establishing a long lasting relationship with the Taiwanese government and people. Musa also formed part of the committee that wrote the 1981 Constitution of Belize. Musa’s contribution to Belize is immeasurable. And while he is a political giant, in 2009 he became a giant target, charged for theft and later freed.


Kareem Musa

“If you know Said Musa you would know that did not have any impact on him primarily because he knew that he did not take any money. He did not steal any money. The money was right at the Belize Bank.  He knew all of that and so when they charged him he knew that one day he would be vindicated. He was dead sure of that. But it is certainly showed you the kind of political party that was coming into government under Dean Barrow.”

For the people of Fort George while the news of Musa’s departure is saddening they are confident that Musa’s presence will still be felt.


Grand Master

Grand Master, Fort George Resident

“He always help pull on top. It does not have to be financially. It could be just the talk to you. Just talking to  him will make you feel, if you get up with the feeling of despair and hopelessness and you meet him and he will stop and give you the time of the day and talk to you and after he talks to you, you feel relieve. You feel a sense of hope. That is the kind of man Said Musa is.  He is not slipping or sliding. He is not hiding. Said Musa is always on your side. He will not take you on any funny ride.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Hipolito Novelo.

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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