On the political front tonight, we can tell you that the United Democratic Party has made progress in getting a new Party Leader Elect. It’s not a lot of progress in terms of quelling the internal ruckus that haunts the ruling party but it is a step forward as a date has been set for the next leadership convention. April 5 will see another race for leadership but the question is who will be racing? On Saturday, the UDP held their National Party Council Meeting. Their goal was to chart a way forward in terms of a new party leader. After the official meeting ended, there was another meeting for only the 31 standard bearers. The media camped outside waiting to get an update on the party’s next move on naming a party leader. Chairman of the party, Michael Peyrefitte, clarified that the NPC does not have the power to name a leader and all they were able to do was set a timeline for the convention.
Michael Peyrefitte, UDP Party Chairman: “The constitution of the party says that once we declare that we are in an emergency situation today then within thirty five days or at least thirty five days must pass before we have a convention, that puts us at April 5. So on April 5th we will have a convention and the persons who are interested from the National Assembly who want to put in their names for the leader they have up until March 26th to do so. That’s all that was officially decided here today.”
Reporter: And that meeting finished from around eleven so there was a post NPC meeting of the colleagues I am told, of the thirty one.
Michael Peyrefitte, UDP Party Chairman: “Well I don’t know where you got that from but I am the chairman of the party and I’m telling you what we did was just hang around and have a discussion about the state of the party as colleagues, that was not an official meeting after the NPC. It is the date of the convention.”
Reporter: Sir is it your expectation, based on the conversation within the colleagues that there will be a contested convention?
Michael Peyrefitte, UDP Party Chairman: “I have no expectation one way or the other. I’ll just wait to see what happens. If one person puts in their name then we have a consensus if two people put in their name then we go to a contested convention.”
AS the UDP members met, dozens of Patrick Faber supporters equipped with placards demonstrated outside the UDP headquarters on Saturday appealing to the party to have Faber lead the UDP. They hailed from all over the country as they believed that Faber was being railroaded in the race for leadership. The media spoke with Peyreifitte on this allegation by the UDP voters.
Michael Peyrefitte, UDP Party Chairman: “Mr.Faber will come out in a minute, he will tell you if he was railroaded. He was not. We cannot rail road anyone in the NPC, as to what is going on out here the people have a right to support who they want.”
It is still unclear if Patrick Faber will re-apply for the post and it is only rumored that Omar Figueroa may be entering the race. As for John Saldivar, reports to Love News is that he is adamant on staying relevant and in the race. We sought a comment from Saldivar this morning, but he is yet to respond. In an interview with Faber following the UDP meeting on Saturday, he noted that there seems to be progress in the civility of discussions among the standard bearers which he finds promising.
Patrick Faber, Former Deputy Prime Minister: “In the post meeting of the NPC where we met with the thirty one I will tell you that of the meetings that we’ve had so far, and you know of them, you camp out outside of the Cabinet room when we have these caucus meetings, I believe we’ve had two of them so far but I will tell you that there was tremendous progress in terms of us working out our issues and trying to come to a compromise and finding a leader in the quickest manner that our constitution allows so I am very heartened I will tell you by the meeting that we just had – not proclaiming any victory don’t get me wrong there but that there was mass improvement in terms of the dialogue just now, there was a portion of the meeting where things broke down but I think the progress overall has been tremendous and I am very heartened by that progress.”
Reporter: — the criticism that just a few weeks ago on February 9th you lost by a significant margin that you should take the message from there and move forward. You lost at the national convention.
Patrick Faber, Former Deputy Prime Minister: “One of the points that I’ve made, more so you Mr.Vasquez and others in the media have made, is that the process of the convention, and I made sure to make that point this morning it’s not a point that was well received but the process of selecting the delegates and all of that was not the fairest of conditions but you know what even as I contemplate now whether or not I’m going to offer myself again the truth of the matter is that for me it would be better for the masses of this party even if the 570 delegates even if it is for them to make that determination as opposed to this party in closed doors try to push something down the throat of the party.”
While Faber still has his eyes on the seat of the Party Leader, as recent as last week some of his Cabinet colleagues had threatened to resign should Faber contest the leadership. On Saturday, however, things seemed to have shifted. The shift, however, is not enough to lead the UDP to an endorsement.
Patrick Faber, Former Deputy Prime Minister: “There were positions of that nature that were expressed in the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday as you know I was not in that Cabinet meeting. So to put it to you yes there are some people who previous today had that view but I will tell you that the general tone in the meeting this afternoon or this morning even this afternoon running into the meeting of the thirty one was that there really is not a place for that kind of thing, that we’re all committed to this in the long haul and so while I can’t speak to those individuals I can tell you what I feel was the sentiment of those who expressed themselves this morning that that kind of thing just giving up and handing over to the PUP is not the way of the UDP and I don’t think that we will do that.”
Deadline for applications for the aspiring UDP leaders is March 26 at 5pm.