It’s no secret that the United Democratic Party is at a critical crossroads – and that’s putting it nicely. The infighting has deteriorated the party’s already weak position, two years after massive losses in the general, municipal and village council elections. However, those within the organisation are optimistic that the fences within the Opposition can be mended and the party can rebound to its former glory. The UDP Freetown caretaker, Orson “OJ” Elrington says that reconciliation is a must because the country’s future depends on it.
Orson “OJ” Elrington, Attorney-At-Law: “I don’t know that there’s any gag order against the members of the UDP. What happened is that the NPC and all members agreed unanimously that it is in the interest of the party, is in the interest of the country that we cease and desist from public attacks against each other and that we work towards the best interest of the party and what is in the best interest of Belize. That does not stop anybody from discussing party issues so far as party issues. I am very cautiously optimistic. I think that we’ve seen tremendous progress in the communication between parties who have differing views. There were decisions that were made to set up. Infrastructure in place to ensure that where there are disagreements in place that there is room for ventilating those disagreements and you would know, Dale, like every good relationship, communication is the key and, therefore, I think that once communication lines are open, once there are mechanisms in place and once there is a mutual respect then we will see significant progress in trying to move forward of the agenda of doing what is in the best interest of the party and what is in the best interest of Belize.”
The truth is that reconciliation cannot happen without two of the party’s most important parliamentarians: area representatives, Patrick Faber and Tracy Taegar-Panton. Both of them have publicly disagreed with the party leader, Shyne Barrow. Both have called for Barrow and his supporters to follow the constitution. We asked Elrington if Faber’s and Panton’s concerns are valid.
Orson “OJ” Elrington, Attorney-At-Law: “I don’t know that I’ve seen that. I know there have been disagreements in certain things but, and I don’t know that it’s as wide reaching as you have laid it out to be but, as I’ve said before, it is that I am very optimistic that the lines of communication are now open. I think that we have put in mechanisms in place where all parties have agreed that these are the mechanisms for us to properly communicate at best. Not even in the most ideal of situations is there going to be where adults are communicating and there is going to be 100% buy in and agreement on everything. It is the nature of a democracy. The very middle name of the United Democratic Party is based on democracy and based on the fact that persons are allowed to disagree and persons are allowed to state, you know, differing views. But, what is most important is that our ultimate objective is to do what is in the best interest of the party and what is in the best interest of Belize.”
Faber’s Facebook posts, which resulted in him being removed from the party’s Central Executive Committee, remain on his page, more than a month after they were made.