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UDP schism? Chairman says those threatening to leave are in “strange position;” dismisses claims that prominent members were blocked during “heated” conversation

Posted: Monday, December 19, 2022. 9:15 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: While he personally hasn’t been told of anyone wishing to leave the United Democratic Party (UDP) following Saturday’s National Party Council (NPC) meeting, party chairman Michael Peyrefitte says he can’t imagine why anyone would, based on a decision collectively, though heatedly, made.

“That’s like saying you don’t want to be part of the UDP, because the UDP followed its constitution. I mean, that’s a strange position to take. I think you would be proud to follow a party that has a process and followed that process; I mean, you cannot choose to be part of something because you don’t like the result of that process. That’s a strange thing for people to say, if they have said it – because I haven’t heard anybody say that,” Peyrefitte told reporters today. He added that elections that are close are hardly uncommon and that the NPC decision, now taken, is final.

Nonetheless, there was discontent in public that not only concerned the decision but how the party has handled itself in the matter. But Peyrefitte argued for due process, suggesting that the party would be accused of being in thrall to outside interests if it did not give Saldivar a chance – not unlike, for example, Donald Trump still having a chance at the Republican Party nomination in the United States despite publicly denying and attempting to overthrow the result of the 2020 election. As for how this might hurt the party down the road – Peyrefitte said simply, “Time will tell,” both in Belmopan and across Belize.

Patrick Faber, who is certainly on the outs with the party, was kicked out when he tried to log in; Tracey Taegar-Panton was allowed in but reported that this atmosphere was less than congenial and her constituency chairman and secretary were not allowed in, and caretaker for Caribbean Shores Lee Mark Chang had to attend via his constituency chair’s residence.

But Peyrefitte flatly denied any “misconduct” on his part as chair, and was rather dismissive of his fellow present and past parliamentarians, hinting of threats of legal action against the party: “They tend to make allegations every single day, and after a while you simply don’t have time to entertain all of them. There was nothing wrong with the meeting, a vote was taken and the majority carries as with all votes…you hear about court, then they hire lawyers, then they hold press conferences with prominent attorneys in the middle explaining violations of the constitution – I have to keep my words to myself in the event we end up in court.”

And while that speaks volumes, Peyrefitte maintains those making much of the dissenters’ comments make too much, insisting that if harsh words there have to be, internally is the way to do it: “you don’t cry on social media – you come and make your point in the meeting. So for harsh words to occur – yes, we’re a democratic party, and in a democracy there will be harsh words.”


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