Wednesday, May 22, 2024

UDP to elect its new party leader this weekend

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On Sunday July 12th, the ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) will attempt for a second time to elect a new party leader to replace retiring and long-time head of the party and Prime Minister Right Honourable Dean Barrow. The leadership convention scheduled to take place at the ITVET Centre in Belize City will see three UDP Ministers, Former Minister of National Security, Honourable John Saldivar, Minister of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture, Honourable Patrick Faber and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Honourable Wilfred Elrington.

The new leader will have the responsibility to sweep in the general elections in November of this year and lead the UDP into a fourth term at the helms of the country.

The first leadership convention took place on February 9th, at which Saldivar was elected as party leader. However, he was forced to resign less than 72 hours after he was sworn in. Saldivar’s resignation was triggered after evidence revealed in a United States Court that he had received funds from international fraudster Lev Dermen, which he vehemently denied.

Can Saldivar legally run for party leader once again?

Many people are questioning why Saldivar is allowed to run again after he was associated with fraudster Dermen.

Apparently, there is nothing in the UDP constitution that can deny anyone, in this case Saldivar, from submitting his name for the candidacy of party leader. The only hurdle for Salvidar could have been the UDP Ethics Committee, which scrutinizes candidates for the leadership post. This committee seems to have the power to accept or reject an application for executive posts within the party.

The race for the leadership

The second convention to replace Barrow had been set for April, but because of COVID-19, it was postponed until further notice. When Saldivar and Faber announced their intentions to run again for the executive post, newly appointed Minister of Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development, Dr. Omar Figueroa joined the race. When the date was announced for the convention in July, Elrington and former Belize City Mayor and current President of the Senate Darrel Bradley joined as well.

Figueroa was the first to drop out, followed recently by Bradley.

Wilfred Elrington

Elrington spoke to the media on Monday, July 6th stating that he is not out of the race and will contest for the opportunity to lead his party. Elrington said that he had offered himself to lead the UDP due to the current pandemic, however, he admitted that not much campaigning has been done on his side to attract support from the delegates who will vote in the new party leader. “It іѕ not а burden thаt І want tо take оn vоluntаrіlу, аnd fоr thаt rеаѕоn, І hаvе nоt bееn рuttіng аll mу hеаrt аnd ѕоul іn іt. І thіnk bаѕісаllу аnd mоѕt рrіmаrіlу І wаnt tо lеt іt bе knоwn thаt І dіd оffеr mуѕеlf, but іt іѕ nоt ѕоmеthіng І аm fіghtіng tооth аnd nаіl fоr,” he said.

Еlrіngtоn is a seasoned politician that has ѕеrvеd іn аll thrее brаnсhеѕ оf the Government of Belize. He has served as the Attorney General, Supreme Court Judge, Міnіѕtеr оf Fоrеіgn Аffаіrѕ, Ноmе Аffаіrѕ аnd Fоrеіgn Тrаdе, аnd іn thе Nаtіоnаl Аѕѕеmblу as well. Elrington also led the initiative to solve the territorial dispute with Guatemala at the International Court of Justice.

As in the previous convention, 570 delegates will decide on Sunday, who will lead the UDP. The voting will apparently take place in a closed-door exercise.

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