Posted: Wednesday, November 23, 2022. 11:49 am CST.
By Aaron Humes: Back from his latest United States tour, Leader of the Opposition United Democratic Party Moses “Shyne” Barrow has dived headlong into the latest controversy surrounding the beleaguered Opposition – the United States State Department’s ‘bomb’ of an announcement last week designating John Saldivar as “significantly corrupt” and denying him and his family access to the U.S.
Barrow on Monday announced that he had set up a 7-member Special Committee to decide the former leader’s fate – “to allow for due process and swift conclusion of the matter considering…the extremely serious allegations being made by our greatest bilateral partner.”
The members include Party Chairman Michael Peyrefitte; chair of the Ethics and Integrity Committee Aldo Salazar; chair of the Rules Committee Ashton McKenzie and party legal advisor Estevan Perrera – that is until the last declined to be a member, telling Channel 7 News that “The US State Department made a decision, and that fact remains. I am not going to be a part of a committee that will speak against or possibly challenge that decision whether directly or indirectly.” Perrera has since been removed as legal advisor, with Barrow saying his decision was “selfish.”
The Committee will meet on December 2 to begin considering, as Barrow said, what has been presented by the State Department and other parties, and to allow Saldivar to defend himself, though he is reportedly going ahead with his campaign for party standard bearer in Belmopan.
On Tuesday, Barrow faced the press to further explain the decision and why it is important that Saldivar face up to the charges despite being a key political ally.
For Barrow, it comes down to the “responsibility” the party has to its supporters, the country, and to democracy, in that order, to consider the entire matter and conclude it no later than December 9. He added that he has been in touch with the State Department to directly request information on the designation, noting that “They did not arrive at this arbitrarily. This went through rigorous scrutiny and this comes from the Secretary of State.”
But who says enough is enough where Saldivar is concerned after years of alleged scandal? Barrow says the decision is not his alone and acknowledges that the party has to at least consider if it would be in the party’s best interest to remove him. Stating that he wished not to prejudice the Special Committee deliberations, the most Barrow would say of his personal beliefs on Saldivar is that the allegations have “haunted” Saldivar and are “serious…persistent.” But he added, “I do believe these allegations are a distraction. I do believe the history of the allegations could serve as a distraction and I am certainly not happy about having a potential candidate that has been dogged by allegations of corruption. It’s not good for the party.”
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