The media houses in Belize will once again be denied access into the United Democratic Party’s leadership convention. While the event will not be as hefty as the one in February it is still garnering the public’s attention as the successful aspirant will move on to vie for the Prime Minister’s chair. The UDP is three days away from their closed convention and the race is now down to three candidates, namely, Patrick Faber, John Saldivar and Wilfred Sedi Elrington. Chairman for the UDP, Michael Peyrefitte spoke on how the voting will be conducted with the Covid-19 protocols in mind.
Hon.Michael Peyrefitte, UDP Chairman: “Minister Figueroa withdrew from the race, former Mayor Darrell Bradley withdrew from the race so now we have three remaining candidates. We have Minister Elrington the Foreign Minister, we have the Honorable John Saldivar member for Belmopan and we have Minister Faber, those are the three candidates that will be on the slate come Sunday. As I said before it will be a far more subdued convention due to the fact that we are still in the middle of a pandemic and we have to make sure that people can exercise their franchise on that day but most importantly that people are safe. So it will be much tighter. I can tell you the media will not be excited about it because you won’t be able to go into the compound, the only people who will be in the compound will be the people who are voting and the party officials. I wish it could have been like a McDonald’s drive thru thing where you drive through you vote and you go. It will be as close to that as possible, people come they will attend they will vote and they will leave. The no campaigning inside the ground there will not even be any posters or banners inside the ground. You go in, you vote and you leave, all the campaigning and all that stuff will have to be done before and or outside. We believe that selecting a leader elect for the party going forward is very very important however there are things that are more important than that. There are things such as making sure that we remain COVID free internally and that any additional cases that we get are cases that are imported so to speak so we can manage them but we understand fully well that the Belizean public would not appreciate any type of serious social gathering like that with the numbers that those things can produce whilst we’re still extremely worried about COVID-19 given situation we have in Mexico, Guatemala and the world over so it will not be gala event as it normally is and so the police will have a tighter detail to command and I expect it to run very smoothly and by three or four o’clock you will know who will be the new leader elect of the UDP.”
As we noted, there will be no party for the United Democratic Party on Sunday due to the Covid-19 protocols. Police security, however, will be strategically placed at the ITVET as explained by the Police Commissioner Chester Williams.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “What we have agreed upon with the organizers, and the AG is one of them, is that it is going to be different this time in the sense that it’s not going to be an event where all the delegates and other supporters are going to come and congregate in one area. How it is going to be done is that they’re going to vote by districts. So Punta Gorda is going to vote first then they leave then Dangriga comes in votes then leaves so you’ll find that at any given time there will not be a mass crowd at the convention area so that will give us better control. You’re not going to see one hundred and twenty five police officers this time Jules. Our deployment is going to be much smaller but we must also ensure that we have patrols around the perimeter of the convention grounds with a view to ensure that law and order is maintained during the time of the convention.”
Of the thousands of registered voters, particularly the UDP supporters, just as in February, only a small percentage of those persons will be able to vote for a new leader. The convention will be closed meaning that only the names on a list of selected delegates will be voting on Sunday.
Hon.Michael Peyrefitte, UDP Chairman: “No it’s fundamentally the same. One delegate in particular has unfortunately passed away so that person has to be replaced. There is a new chairman of one of the committees so that person will vote in place of the former chairperson of that committee and I think for the reasons of COVID some delegates can’t make it into the country safely and so that’s why you have alternates some alternates will be there but a final list will be given to all the candidates by Friday, tomorrow, and so they will know exactly who will be voting for them. But the list of delegates and alternates are there for all party officials to observe so I imagine that when you’re campaigning for such a lofty office you would make sure that you touch the delegates and the alternates in the event that one delegate or any amount of delegates on that day can’t attend.”
Voting starts at 10am and ends at 1pm. Love News will be doing live reports from the ITVET while a host of panelists will be in studio talking politics.