The United Democratic Party is still finding it difficult to move past its internal problems but the leadership is hoping that steps will be made to move forward, and soon. Albert Area Representative, Tracy Taegar-Panton sat down with Love News this week to discuss a variety of issues. In that discussion, we asked about those internal challenges, particularly her decision not to participate in the party’s demonstration held earlier this week. We put to her that perhaps her not being out there is a signal that she’s not happy with the way the Opposition is being managed. Here’s what she had to say about it.
Tracy Panton, Area Representative, Albert Division: ” I think it’s no secret. I have been very open in the concerns I have had with the way that the party is being manage. We’re trying to make strides in a direction that will hopefully bring us to a place where we don’t have to have these discussions publicly but all is still not well. We’re making an effort. There was certainly a commitment at the last national party council meeting that avenues and opportunities would be made available for members of this party and elected officials and appointed officials of this party to be heard. I think that’s a step in the right direction. There was a commitment by the NPC that the constitution of the party would be adhered to and respected and in cases where there’s ambiguity or there is differences in interpretation of what that provision of the constitution says that we will seek clarity from the legal advisor I think that’s a tep in the right direction. There was also a commitment to abide by the decisions of the NPC, I think that’s a step in the right direction. The NPC as you know is the highest decision making body of the party outside of the national convention. I am tentative. I will agree but I am prepared to give this process a chance just as I was prepared to give the process of sitting down with Patrick and the party leader for the three of us to sit down and ventilate our concerns. I was prepared to give that a chance. I am prepared to give the NPC decision a chance. I doesn’t mean though that if I feel that my voice is not being heard internally or if I feel like we are straying away from the commitments that we had made at the NPC that I won’t say anything you know we are given the right by the constitution of Belize to freedom of expression and I don’t think anyone should be silenced.”
While Panton says she’s not entirely happy with the way things are going, she’s willing to ensure that the process toward reconciliation and unification can work. She believes that there have been some positive steps in the right direction.
Tracy Panton, Area Representative, Albert Division: “Party in my view, you see the constitution of party is a non emotional document. Rules exist, guidelines exist so that when there are differences of opinions or when emotions get in the way or whatever may get in the way we can go to the rules, we can go to the guidelines and follow them. I think if we followed the guidelines of the party, if we respected the rules of the party I don’t think it would be as difficult as it seems. So there was a request in the interest of trying to ensure that the opposition can remain viable, that the opposition can focus its energy on addressing the national issues of the country there was a discussion and a request that this kind of negative positioning of the party in the public be downplayed, stopped in fact. It is not for the central executive to discipline for lack of a better term a member of the party. The party provides for an ethics committee. The role and function of the ethics committee is in my view to review cases of if there is a formal complaint that that matter be reviewed, that the person who the complaint is about has an opportunity to be heard, to be able to articulate their concerns or their decisions on any particular matter. I am not aware that the ethics committee has been engaged. They may be, I’m not aware that they have.”