Said Wilbert Musa
Former Prime Minister of Belize
Said Wilbert Musa (born 19 March 1944) is a Belizean lawyer and politician. He was the Prime Minister of Belize from 28 August 1998 to 8 February 2008.
Early life and education
Said Musa was born in San Ignacio, Cayo District, Belize . He was the fourth of eight children by Aurora Musa, née Gibbs, and Hamid Musa of Palestinian descent.
Musa attended Saint Andrew's Primary School in San Ignacio. He then attended high school at St. Michael's College in Belize City and later St. John's College Sixth Form. He then studied law at the University of Manchester in England, receiving an Honours Degree in Law in 1966, and then qualified as a barrister at Gray's Inn.. He returned to Belize the following year, serving as crown counsel and then going into private practice.
Musa joined the People's United Party (PUP) under George Cadle Price. He ran for Parliament for the first time in 1974 in the Fort George constituency and was narrowly defeated by Dean Lindo, losing by 46 votes. He was, however, successful in the 1979 election, winning the Fort George seat and defeating Lindo by a margin of 71 votes. He served as Attorney General and Minister for Economic Development from 1979 to 1984. In the first years of independence, Musa served on the committee that wrote the Belizean Constitution.
Musa defended Belize's large national debt, mostly incurred in the 1980s, by saying Keynesian economics was being used: "The economy was in a deep recession, the country was broke (due to hurricanes) therefore it had to get the private sector moving again. The country started a major expansionary program ... to pay for the program we took on a lot of debt."
In the 1984 election, Musa was defeated by Lindo, losing by a margin of 57 votes, but he regained his seat in the 1989 election, defeating Lindo by 449 votes; he has won the Fort George constituency in every election since. Musa was Minister of Foreign Affairs and Education from 1989 to 1993. He took over the leadership of the PUP in 1996 and led the party to a landslide victory in elections in 1998 and 2003.
Musa led Belize to significant growth over his near-decade long term in office, but his popularity declined during his last years in office due to in part to increasing public perception of corruption among his Cabinet and within his party.
Outside of Belize, Musa chaired several regional organisations, including CARICOM and SICA.
Musa again led the PUP into the election held on February 7, 2008, but this time the PUP suffered a severe defeat at the hands of the UDP, winning only six out of 31 seats Musa himself was re-elected in the Fort George constituency. UDP leader Dean Barrow succeeded Musa as Prime Minister on February 8, 2008.
Musa said on the day of the 2008 election that he intended for it to be his last election. After the PUP's defeat, he congratulated Barrow. He considered the opposition's focus on allegations of corruption and negativity from the media to be primary factors in the defeat.
On February 13, 2008, Musa announced that he was stepping down as party leader so that the PUP could "renew itself from the top." The PUP held a convention on March 30, 2008 to select his successor, and Johnny Briceño was elected as PUP leader.
Musa is married to Joan Musa.