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UDP Accepts Vega’s Resignation as First Deputy

With just about ten years in the political arena, Gaspar Vega is hanging up his hat as a politician as he has made it clear that he will not be seeking re-election in the 2020 General Elections.  His decision to not only give up the Orange Walk North division but also to step down as the party’s Deputy Party Leader was expressed via a letter sent yesterday to the UDP’s Secretariat and the Party Leader, Dean Barrow.  Vega’s decision comes as a surprise to many since he has always been the quiet and private Deputy Prime Minister and First Deputy Party Leader.  Love News has learnt that while he did not cite the matter of his Cabinet portfolio being changed as a reason for his decision, he did speak of matters relating to the party’s constitution.  In the letter, Vega wrote, quote, “It has been established that the party is taking the position of not having another biennial convention for another four years; because of this position and the fact that I will not be a candidate in the next general election, I am convinced that the proper thing to do is to withdraw my application for the Deputy Party Leader in the upcoming biennial convention for March 20, 2016.  End of quote.  Vega is a businessman, originally from San Estevan Village in the Orange Walk District and it is anticipated that he will continue in his private sector business once he leaves the political arena.  Vega was first elected in 2008 under the Dean Barrow administration.  He has been the Deputy Prime Minister since and was the Minister of Natural Resources up until November 2015 when he was shifted into the Ministry of Agriculture.  There have been conflicting reports that with his resignation as the Deputy Party Leader there may be some change to his status as the Deputy Prime Minister; we are uncertain of this and have been unable to get some clarification on the issue up to news time this evening.  What we can tell you for certain, however, is that his resignation has been accepted and that the UDP is now facing a special national convention following the one scheduled for March 20.  This was noted in their release sent out this morning.  The party release reads, quote, “The United Democratic Party confirms that First Deputy Party Leader Hon Gaspar Vega has, by letter dated March 8, 2016, informed the Party of his decision not to stand again for his Orange Walk North seat in the next general elections. Hon Vega has also said that in view of this early notification of his retirement from electoral politics at the end of the current term, he feels it is right that he not continue as First Deputy Party Leader of the UDP. Accordingly, he is no longer prepared to accept the four year endorsement as First Deputy, which endorsement would have been done at, and with effect from, the UDP Convention on March 20, 2016. In the result, the March 20 Convention will now proceed only to endorse, for the next four years, the Party Leader Rt Hon Dean Barrow; the Second Deputy Leader, Hon Erwin Contreras; the Party Chairman Alberto August; and the Deputy Party Chair Fern Gutierrez. The National Party Council of the UDP will meet shortly after the March 20 Convention to decide on the procedure and timing for a special election to choose the new First Deputy Party Leader to succeed Hon Vega. Hon Vega has made clear that he will continue to “faithfully serve the United Democratic Party and will do whatever….in the interest of the betterment of the party”. He also “will work arduously with my successor to ensure another victory for the great constituency of Orange Walk North”. The United Democratic Party expresses its profound gratitude to Hon Vega for his long and successful tenure as First Deputy Leader. No one worked harder, especially in the North, to achieve the record electoral successes of the UDP, and Hon Vega is worthy of great praise and thanks. The UDP points out that Hon Vega’s decision regarding his tenure as First Deputy Party Leader, has nothing to do with his position as a Minister of Government. He therefore remains in the Cabinet of Belize.”  End of quote.  As is state in the release, the planned convention remains on the calendar for March 20 with plans to hold a special convention to fill the now vacant post for the UDP’s First Deputy Leader.  Love News understands that the Second Deputy Leader Erwin Contreras may be looking at moving up in the hierarchy of the proverbial red and white tent.