Said Musa

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The Right Honourable
Said Wilbert Musa
Said Musa.jpg
5th Prime Minister of Belize
In office
28 August 1998 – 8 February 2008
Monarch Elizabeth II
Governor General Colville Young
Deputy Johnny Briceño
Juan Vildo Marin
Preceded by Manuel Esquivel
Succeeded by Dean Barrow
Constituency Fort George, Belize District
Personal details
Born (1944-03-19) 19 March 1944 (age 70)
San Ignacio, Belize
Political party PUP
Spouse(s) Joan Musa
Profession Lawyer

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[edit]

Said Wilbert 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.

As a boy, 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. While living in Belize City, Said Musa aided his parents by selling "tamales" and other Belizean delicacies. After completing secondary school 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. Said Musa has significantly contributed to law in Belize by representing thousands of underprivileged and poor individuals who come into contact with the law.

Political career[edit]

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.[1] 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."[2]

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.[1] 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.[citation needed]

Outside of Belize, Musa chaired several regional organisations, including CARICOM and SICA.

Musa again led the PUP into the election held on 7 February 2008, but this time the PUP suffered a severe defeat at the hands of the UDP, winning only six out of 31 seats.[3] Musa himself was re-elected in the Fort George constituency.[1][4] UDP leader Dean Barrow succeeded Musa as Prime Minister on 8 February.[3]

Musa said on the day of the 2008 election that he intended for it to be his last election.[1][5] 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.[5]

On 13 February 2008, Musa announced that he was stepping down as party leader[1][6] so that the PUP could "renew itself from the top."[6] The PUP held a convention on 30 March 2008 to select his successor, and Johnny Briceño was elected as PUP leader.[7]

Johnny Briceno was replaced by Francis Fonseca in October 2011 and five months later in March 2012 he led the PUP to an almost promising election with fourteen of thirty one available seats.


Musa is married to Joan Musa. His son, Yasser Musa, is an artist, teacher, poet and entertainer in Belize and headed its arts council, the National Institute of Culture and History (NICH) under the PUP administration in addition to serving as chief of public relations for the PUP. Another son, Kareem, recently returned to Belize with a law degree and has taken on a number of prominent cases recently.

He and his wife Joan also have three other sons, Mark Musa (a doctor), Said Musa Jr and David Musa. One of Musa's other children from an extramarital relationship, Henry Charles Usher, served as the Secretary General of the P.U.P. for the latter part of the Musa-led P.U.P. and is now Chairman of the party.


  1. ^ a b c d e Adele Ramos, "Musa and Ralph step down – PUP D-day March 30!", Amandala Online, 15 February 2008.[dead link]
  2. ^[dead link]
  3. ^ a b "Belize's opposition party wins landslide in congressional elections", Associated Press (International Herald Tribune), 9 February 2008.[dead link]
  4. ^ "CONFIRMED WINNERS", Amandala Online, 8 February 2008.[dead link]
  5. ^ a b Adele Ramos, "Said Musa’s post-mortem of general elections 2008", Amandala Online, 12 February 2008.[dead link]
  6. ^ a b "Former Belize prime minister steps down as party leader", Caribbean Net News, 14 February 2008.[dead link]
  7. ^ "Johnny stuns Francis in ‘Pan!", Amandala Online, 1 April 2008.[dead link]
Political offices
Preceded by
Manuel Esquivel
Prime Minister of Belize
Succeeded by
Dean Barrow
Party political offices
Preceded by
George Cadle Price
Party Leader, People's United Party
Succeeded by
Johnny Briceño