The suspense of what would be John Saldivar’s fate was all over by early afternoon. After what we were told was an intense meeting among the UDPs and after failing to get an interview with the Party Chairman, Michael Peyrefitte, the UDP’s Facebook Page went live with a statement from Peyrefitte. According to the Chairman, the party is back at square one in choosing a new party leader.
Michael Peyrefitte, Chairman, United Democratic Party: “We had a full and frank discussion this morning in the cabinet room. It was tough for everybody but John decided that it was in the best interest of the party, while maintaining his innocence completely in the matter, to step down at this time. Where we are right now, we never had a new leader that took office. The Prime Minister is still the leader, was the leader on Sunday and was the leader today, yesterday and Monday. So he’s leaving, we have to now think about the possibility of having another convention just for leader. We may decide as a party, the delegates may decide ‘Listen, we could come to a consensus and choose a leader in the spirit of efficiency.’ any one of these things can happen but right now anything can happen in terms of the normal process before Sunday. People can apply to be the leader and of course under the UDP constitution anyone from the National Assembly can express their interest in becoming leader or now maybe the Honorable Hugo Patt or the Honorable Beverly Williams have been elected on Sunday could decide that they now want that leadership spot; it’s absolutely wide open. The new leadership of the party including myself, Alberto August, the Honorable Hugo Patt, the Honorable Beverly Williams and the Prime Minister would have to sit down along with the central party executive committee, the National Party Council and then we have to decide in what direction we will move, that’s what we have to do at this point.”
As we keep noting, politics is fluid and fleeting. Chairman Peyrefitte puts it a bit differently pretty much saying that it is not made for the faint of heart.
Michael Peyrefitte, Chairman, United Democratic Party: “You’re either built for politics or you’re not built for politics. Everybody knows that politics is the roughest game ever, rougher than football. So when you’re in politics you have to anticipate the possibility of these things. You go through a convention, you select a leader and a couple days later that leader resigns, that’s a part of it; you have to rebound, you have to gather yourself and then you have to choose a new leader – that’s the game so to speak. So it’s not an issue for us it’s just tough to see a person who we love and a person who loves the party so much have to resign as leader given the fact that this is a person who’s been fighting for leadership of the party his entire life. However the best interest of the party, in his view and our view, is more important than one person’s ambition and we respect John, we love John but in my personal view I believe he came to the right decision. There was love, there was sadness of the situation, there was the urgency given the fact that we have to face the Belizean people and tell the Belizean people that we believe that it is right for the country and for the party to ask our leader elect to remove himself from that position. It’s not easy but it was a healthy discussion, it was a wonderful discussion and the Prime Minister decided, which I think was the best decision, to include all thirty one standard bearers for the next election so that they could have an input and a say as to what they felt was the best interest of the party going forward. Remember all thirty one standard bearers had their sixteen delegates, they were a big part of the election so it was only fair to include them in the meeting so we could hear their thoughts. But the Prime Minister is the chairman of cabinet and the Prime Minister decides how he wants to deal with the cabinet so the Prime Minister couldn’t remove him as leader because he was duly elected but the Prime Minister, as he said in his statement, was duty bound to ask him to resign from the leadership of the party.”
So… the UDP has seen a massive convention on Sunday; the resignation of its Party Leader Elect within 72 hours, the resignation of its Deputy Prime Minister, the swearing-in of a new Deputy Prime Minister, a scandal of massive proportions being aired in a US Federal Court and a Prime Minister who wants to retire but is being held back by all the drama and damage. The party now faces an opening for a new party leader. But who will he or she be? Will Patrick Faber try again? According to Chairman Michael Peyrefitte, it is wide open, so much so that even John Saldivar can run again if he chooses to.
Michael Peyrefitte, Chairman, United Democratic Party: “If the party decides that it wants to hold another convention Minister Faber is free to put in his name to run for leader of the party. It would be interesting to note but even the Honorable John Saldivar would be free to put his name, he has resigned, if the party chooses to have another convention he could choose at that point again to put in his name having stepped down technically when you look at it that way. So look, parties have conventions and if the party decides to have a convention anybody who is a member of the National Assembly can apply to be the leader of the party. What this Prime Minister has demonstrated is that he is a man of his word and he’s a man of principle and integrity. He told this nation that there are only allegations that one of his ministers took money from this man, he told the nation that every minister in cabinet told him ‘no’ they didn’t accept any money from this man, that until evidence rears it’s head he would do nothing and act in no way until he sees that evidence. He has seen that evidence and true to his word he has decided to deal with that particular minister by not just asking him to resign as leader but by indefinitely suspending him from the cabinet. The PUP don’t do that, only the UDP does that. So no matter what issues may be happening in the UDP we are still head and shoulders above the People’s United Party and I don’t think that with all the issues that we have that Johnny Briceno is a better alternative than whichever leader the UDP were to choose to lead it into the next general elections.”