By Aaron Humes: The United Democratic Party held a special meeting of its national party council on Saturday to determine the date of a convention to elect the first deputy party leader, who would replace the retiring Gaspar Vega.
The convention will take place at the ITVET Grounds in Belize City on Sunday, May 29th. The party’s application process is now formally open and closes on April 22nd at 5:00 p.m.
Ministers Patrick Faber and John Saldivar are the only confirmed candidates at present, despite suggestions that the party leadership may back a surprise third candidate.
Surrounded by his cheering constituents, Faber spoke of his opponents’ plans to change the delegate list that was generated for the party’s March 20th National Convention, which were defeated by special ballot.
According to Faber, the Council agreed that the delegates were chosen to act beyond the Convention for a certain period of time and it made no sense to change them three weeks out.
More importantly, Faber believes he has the majority of the support from those delegates.
Saldivar has obtained a wide range of endorsements. However, Faber says those do not matter as much as the delegates’ choice: approximately 16 area representatives and standard bearers support Saldivar; but Faber’s 15 supporters carry all of their delegations with them and there are dissenters in the Saldivar camp.
Faber said he wants to be in charge of preparing the party for a fourth consecutive general election victory.
On the matter of campaign financing, Faber says he has accepted funding from certain friends, business owners and other donors; however, he says that those persons should not expect they will receive any favours. He has also put up some of his own money. He also stated that Saldivar and he remain close friends and as he has stated before, those who wish the UDP will fall apart as a result are engaging in wishful thinking.
Neither Party leader and Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow nor Gaspar Vega, have indicated a public preference as to Vega’s successor, though Vega is privately suggested to be in favour of Saldivar.
Faber says he has tried to reach out to Vega and despite their cordial relationship, not getting his endorsement will not sting as much because he is targeting support from the rest of Orange Walk and its delegations.
In the party leader’s case he has vowed to be neutral in the race, which he sees as a preview of the race to succeed him at the end of his current term.
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