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Tracey Taegar-Panton concedes despite counting ‘discrepancies’; party constitutional reform on agenda

Posted: Tuesday, March 29, 2022. 11:03 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: Tracey Taegar-Panton has formally conceded the race for leader of the United Democratic Party.

She consoled disappointed supporters on social media on Sunday, reassuring: “We did the BEST we could. We ran a good race. We maintained a clean campaign. I am proud of what we were able to accomplish under the circumstances. I wish to thank all the members of my UDP Family who supported me on this journey. Your love, support, and prayers have been incredible. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate my colleague, the Hon Moses “Shyne” Barrow on becoming the new Party Leader. The delegates have spoken.”

Appearing on Channel 5 News’ Open Your Eyes on Monday, Taegar-Panton admitted to being humbled at the thought of being another Mia Mottley and expressed gratitude for the experience: “The journey was a very steep hill; I said that at the start of the process. We had no illusions that it would be easy…In a very short period of time, we were able to cover a lot of ground.”

That doesn’t take away from the sting of defeat – and Taegar-Panton confirmed that she had sought a recount which was refused and even dared to take the party to count after “discrepancies” were observed in the counting, specifically more votes in one box than number of persons actually able to vote – but Taegar-Panton conceded that the party has a lot of healing and rebuilding to do, and she promised to “put in her pound of flesh to achieve that goal in the shortest possible amount of time.” She further promised to not be a detractor to new leader Barrow.

It is now time, she added, to rebuild the party into a viable Opposition and to begin holding the ruling People’s United Party to account. The multiple leadership and recall conventions since Dean Barrow’s departure in October 2020 have done nothing, she said, to help party unity, and that a ‘UDP family’ must mean something. While she wanted to win, ultimately it must be the party and the country that must win and that there are other opportunities, hopefully, down the line.

Taegar-Panton also acknowledged that being a woman played a role in the campaign but insisted that she was “not going to be a female leader; I am going to be a good leader who happens to be a woman.” She pledged to further work for expanding women’s representation but acknowledged that she had support from both genders within the party and not because she happens to be female.

And one thing the party certainly appears to agree on is the need for internal reform. Taegar-Panton called for a sense of fair play and for more inclusion in the process for constituencies. As has been pointed out, more than 57 thousand Belizeans voted for the UDP in the most recent election, but certain organs of the party carried more sway than others.

For their part, both Party Chairman Michael Peyrefitte and the new Party Leader have heard the call. In remarks after the convention, Peyrefitte lent his support, qualified with the approval of the National Party Council and National Convention, while Barrow said he would shortly engage on a tour of all constituencies to hear directly from supporters and plot internal reforms, including implementing a system of election of delegates to better represent the party at its decision-making levels.

 

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