Posted: Tuesday, February 1, 2022. 11:44 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: After his second appointment as Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, Moses “Shyne” Barrow went on the offensive, discussing at length why he is ready to lead the United Democratic Party – and why his opponent, Tracey Taegar-Panton, is not, despite her record and length of service.
Barrow is in his first term in Parliament, but he says he has been a leader his entire life – in music, as a Grammy Award-winning writer, performer, and publisher who owned his publishing company and record company since he was 19 years old; in politics, volunteering and serving in the Queen’s Square and Mesopotamia divisions and being vice-chairman of the latter’s constituency committee until he became standard-bearer and ultimately area representative; in governance, being a member of five House Committees and already taken a turn as Leader of the Opposition; and in leadership, working to earn the support of other leaders in the party and the backing of leaders outside the country, particularly in the United States.
The one acknowledged black mark on his recent record would be being accused himself of domestic assault by his wife but there was no request for court action as the complaint was withdrawn.
But as he told reporters today in Belmopan, his opponent had failed at a critical time for the party: “…when she had the opportunity to stand up for all [gender-based violence] victims, when she had the opportunity to stand up for women, when she had the opportunity to stand up for the United Democratic Party, when she had the opportunity to stand up for the country of Belize [which] definitely needs a viable opposition, she refused. She stood up for the accused. She made a deal with the accused who, unlike me, that was not the first instance. That was the third instance that we knew of and she chose to be an apologist, she chose to be a sympathizer rather than stand up. So, she should be the last one to talk about those issues and it is really shameful to use such a serious issue as a political tool.”
Furthermore, Shyne revealed, he had previously supported Taegar-Panton for party leader when Patrick Faber was under the threat of recall: “When I led the charge in the recall, along with the Caucus for Change, I begged the honorable Panton to be the Leader of the Opposition. We begged her to take up the position so that we can show the country this is who the UDP is and let us move on and start that rebuilding process around her. I would have been her party whip; I would have done everything. All of us would have come around her, she chose Patrick over principle.”
Taegar-Panton’s strategy of seemingly “soft-soaping” Faber’s issues as a leader while playing the long game of claiming his base for herself has not only backfired on her, according to Barrow, but on the party, and he has been left to pick up the pieces.
As the race for the next leader of the party begins in earnest, we expect the war of words between the two representatives to continue.
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