Patrick Faber is breathing a sigh of relief right now after having secured more than the required number of delegates to ensure he stays at the helm of the United Democratic Party. It was certainly an uphill battle, but in the face of all that, more than two hundred delegates believe he can reverse the party’s political fortunes. News Editor Dale McDougall reports.\
Dale McDougall, News Editor, Love FM News: It was here on Sunday where the United Democratic Party’s historic recall vote took place. It was one that saw Patrick Faber, the former Minister of Education and five time Collet area representative, having to convince the party’s five hundred twenty one delegates that he was the right person to lead. There weren’t the usual paraphernalia involved in this election save for a few shirts but even without the fanfare Faber knew that his work was cut out for him.
Patrick Faber, UDP Party Leader: “I don’t think that if I don’t win by an absolute majority today that hat means that the party does not trust me. I am confident of a win, I feel at this time that it will be by more than half and you know the situation was that some of these delegates were not properly selected so you’ll have have to understand that that can’t be a judgment on whether or not there is love and loyalty for me as the leader of the party.”
Dale McDougall, News Editor, Love FM News: But how did we get here? Well back on June 17th two hundred ninety delegates signed a petition which was delivered by UDP candidates Tony Herrera and Philip Willoughby who both lost elections in November and are part of the “Caucus for Change.”
Tony Herrera: “We brought in the recall petition. I must inform you the recall the constitution calls for a hundred and seventy two we got two hundred and ninety signatures from twenty six different constituencies here and this is mainly to recall the party leader of our party.”
Dale McDougall, News Editor, Love FM News: This entire process certainly exposed divisions within the organization. Divisions Albert area rep Tracy Panton believes will be resolved in due course.
Tracy Panton, Area Representative, Albert Constituency: “I respect the constitution of the United Democratic Party and I respect the legally constituted bodies of the United Democratic Party. I believe this should be strictly an internal matter and it’s unfortunate that it has gone in the public domain in my view. The party will sort itself out. We will reconcile, we will heal, we will unit and we will rebuild whatever happens today.”
Dale McDougall, News Editor, Love FM News: It was a quick process because by three o’clock the counting started with four hundred eighty three delegates having cast their ballots. At the end of the day Faber managed to convince enough delegates to have him stay on as leader. Chairman Michael Peyrefitte provided the breakdown and like his parliamentary colleague Tracy Panton he too was optimistic that with this process behind them the UDP can move forward toward healing and reconciliation.
Michael Peyrefitte, UDP Chairman: “Four hundred and eighty three delegates cast their vote. Two hundred and twenty six said ‘Yes’ they wanted the Honorable Patrick Faber to remain the leader of the United Democratic Party and two hundred and fifty seven said ‘No’ they don’t want him to remain the leader of the party. The two twenty six is more than the one sixty one one third that was necessary for Mr.Faber to remain the leader of the UDP and so therefore with those numbers the Honorable Patrick Faber remains the leader of the United Democratic Party. He needed about one sixty two or one sixty one and he passed that. You only need to win by one it doesn’t have to be convincing. I know I lost by sixteen against Francis Fonseca. We have one United Democratic Party and today is the beginning of the process to sort things out and come together as one unified party. We will sort that out in the future going forward.”
Dale McDougall, News Editor, Love FM News: And for Faber it was another hurdle successfully crossed despite the odds.
Patrick Faber, UDP Party Leader: “I am happy of course of the results I would have hoped for a larger margin of course but it’s not just the bare minimum either you know two hundred and twenty something when we only required a hundred and sixty odd I think is indeed very much convincing form e and given that everybody knows that these odds are stacked against me because of the way the delegates were selected originally in some constituencies I think this is a damn good showing and so I’m proud of the results and I’m happy that I get to continue to be the leader of our great party. I think the vast majority of people in our party, the masses, but also the wider population of Belize believes that I am the best person to be the leader of the opposition. I think that is very clear from all that has been said in the mainstream but also in social media people are not happy of the situation that was happening with the new leader of the opposition and so I’m going to do my best now that I have gained or people have re-endorsed me as the leader of the party to ensure that I regain my position as Leader of the Opposition.”
Dale McDougall, News Editor, Love FM News: However this page in the UDP history book is far from over. Leader of the Opposition Shyne Barrow, the man seen as the face of the anti Faber movement explained that if Faber succeeded on Sunday moves would be made to force him out.
Moses “Shyne” Barrow, Leader of the Opposition: ”Resistance will continue until there is a convention and until the people are satisfied that we have a leader that again it is not personal for me. I am concerned about the institution of the UDP and us winning the next general elections because we need to be able to lead this country in a different direction than where the PUP government is taking us. And so I don’t believe there will be any satisfaction if Patrick is not recalled and he will have a very difficult time making any progress as a fragile minority leader.”
Dale McDougall, News Editor, Love FM News: Indeed after all is said and done Patrick Faber has a tough road. Some criticizing him for falling short of fifty percent but he was well over the one hundred and sixty one delegates he needed to stave off this removal effort. But as the Belizeanism says ‘if di pin neva bend the story neva end.’ and it seems this one is certainly far from over.