By this time on Sunday night, the United Democratic Party will have a new leader-elect. It’s like Déjà vu since Minister of Education, Patrick Faber, and former Minister of National Security, John Saldivar, will be competing for the coveted position. This time, though, there is another aspirant, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wilfred Elrington. Apart from a third choice, there are many other things that differ from February’s convention. The location, for example, has changed from the Civic Center to ITVET in Belize City. As the chairman of the UDP, Michael Peyrifitte, has said, it won’t be a grand occasion like last time. One thing that remains constant though, is Faber’s confidence in his ability to succeed. That is exactly what he told the media today.
Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports: “I’m feeling very confident. You know this time around I’ve said to the delegates that there’s not much that I can say to them in terms of selling them who I am and why it is that I’m fit for this position. I think much of the work was done for the February convention and so it is at this time only to ask them again as humbly as I can to give me their support this time around. I’m sure that all of them understand and they agree that in fact the UDP must win the next general elections which we believe will be in November of this year and in order to do that we have to put our best foot forward and for them and for others in the upper echelon of our party but also for the base of the party they see me as the best candidate at this time to be in the leadership position.”
Another thing Faber is confident about is the support that he has. While there were speculations the last time around that the Prime Minister, Dean Barrow, had sided with Saldivar, Faber said that this time, he is sure that PM Barrow is in his corner.
Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports: “There is record of him saying this over the many years that I have served as his deputy or even served as his minister in Cabinet that he believes that I am competent and capable and that I have that integrity and honesty to lead the party and to carry it on so does the Prime Minister support me ? Of course he does. He has said this many times over.”
Jules Vasquez, 7News: Does he support you right now in July 2020 ?
Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports: “I believe he does but that’s a question you’d have to ask him. He’s not said that publicly and so I believe his support is behind me. I believe that on election day on convention day that his vote, the personal vote from Dean Barrow, will be for Patrick Faber I have no doubt about that in my mind.”
The Prime Minister’s son, Shyne Barrow, has also made the switch over to Team Faber. We heard him say himself earlier this week, and today, it was reiterated by Faber. The Education Minister also spoke of the overwhelming support he has gotten from other Ministers and Standard Bearers.
Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports: “In terms of Shyne I will tell you that I’m really genuinely proud of my brother. He as you’ve said was a very very outspoken opponent of my candidacy the last time around and it took a little bit of healing after the convention to be honest it did not happen overnight but I reached out to him and we agreed that this kind of back and forthing if you will is not healthy for the party. We always maintained that we both wanted to see the best for the party and while I don’t think any of my colleagues who have now said they won’t support Saldivar in this campaign, and I will tell you that none of the people who were supporting me if you check the record have now said they’re supporting Saldivar so there are only in fact proven gains that I have made in this race. If you check the statistics you will see that if we want to make some kind of judgment based on the number of constituencies alone and you average fifteen delegates per constituency that’s only four constituencies that you need and I can name you right off if you insist four of those constituency leaders who have said we’re going to go all out now with Faber.”
Jules Vasquez, 7News: I’d love if you’d name them sir.
Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports: “Shyne to begin with, we have the Honorable Pablo Marin who has made a public declaration, we have the Honorable Rene Montero who has made a public declaration, I’m trying to stick to those who have –“
Jules Vasquez, 7News: You won’t mention Irwin Contreras?
Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports: “Well you have now mentioned him and I will – how they say it if you say a name and I whistle? If I wasn’t talking so much and my mouth wasn’t so dry I would have whistled but yes I believe he is with us.”
In The February 9 convention, Saldivar came out victorious. While this loss may have been discouraging, Faber says after the event that unfolded in Utah, USA, his confidence is renewed. As you will recall, Saldivar’s associate, Lev Dermen, was found guilty of money laundering. While there is no criminal record for Saldivar himself, Faber believes that the association alone is enough for the people to look to the Education Minister as a better leader.
Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports: “Same list of delegates, same candidate but in a way there’s a difference in terms of the candidates. I think that without putting too much on my opponent I think that all now understands what happened there and whether or not as Minister Saldivar has said that he is innocent or guilty the impression is there of some kind of want for a better position to be in and certainly I fit the bill, I believe I have those qualities that people are looking for now for a leader that they can rally behind to take to bring victory. The delegates are the same but movements have been made, activities have happened subsequent to that that now makes the qualities that I have and people have said, and it’s not something that I’m blowing my own horn you in the media you study me well I’m sure and you can attest to the fact that there’s some qualities now which become way more important in terms of winning the elections given all that has happened since February. So for me it is very clear because of all of those things that have happened I was still able to get two hundred and twenty something votes so you know it’s not going to go any lower than that and the factors that have changed are certainly going to have the situation in my view be in my direction.”
The convention starts at 10am, and voting ends at 1pm. Love News will be on the ground bringing you live reports.