BELIZE CITY, Sun. May 29, 2016–Today, the governing United Democratic Party (UDP) elected a new first deputy leader, Hon. Patrick Faber, the Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, who is a former chairman of the party who left the post in February 2013 when he made an unsuccessful bid to unseat Hon. Gaspar Vega as first deputy leader.
Faber defeated his colleague, Hon. John Saldivar, Minister of National Security, by a count of 336 to 246 votes. Amandala has confirmed that Faber will be named Deputy Prime Minister, which is a parliamentary post that is not automatically conferred with the first deputy leadership post.
The governing United Democratic Party (UDP), which recently made political history by winning three consecutive general elections, was shaken up when shortly after winning its third term, the UDP First Deputy Leader, Hon. Gaspar Vega, announced that he would not be contesting another term in office and was giving up his position as first deputy leader.
UDP leader, Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, had also announced, shortly after winning the November 4, 2015 general elections, that he would step aside in time to make way for a new party leader to lead the party into the next general elections, scheduled for 2020.
Vega’s resignation sent two elected UDP leaders scrambling to fill the leadership void and Hon. Patrick Faber, the Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, and Hon. John Saldivar, the Minister of National Security, made early announcements that they would run for the first deputy leader post.
After weeks of what at times appeared to be a bitter campaign by the two aspirants, who flooded the airwaves with their campaign commercials, voting for the first deputy leader began at 9:00 a.m. and finished around 3:00 p.m. as over 500 selected delegates from the 31 electoral constituencies cast their votes at the ITVET compound on Freetown Road today.
The result would be out in less than one hour, the UDP chairman John August told Amandala as the counting of the ballot began after the polling closed.
The word coming out of the counting room at first was that John Saldivar and Patrick Faber were running a close race. That was to change about half an hour into the counting when Faber took a commanding lead over John Saldivar.
Saldivar had camped his supporters at the YWCA at the corner of Freetown Road and St. Thomas Street, while Faber had his supporters at ITVET, so when word about an early Faber lead began to make the rounds at the ITVET compound, there were no supporters of John Saldivar around.
When the final tally was announced by August, 585 delegates had voted out of a total of 589. Out of those 585 ballots, only 1 ballot was rejected.
Patrick Faber had captured the UDP first deputy leader post with 336 votes compared to John Saldivar, who received 248 votes. Faber edged out Saldivar by 88 votes.
When Faber ran against Vega in the 2013 UDP Convention, he was defeated by 78 votes and had garnered only 233 votes out of 544 votes that were cast. Meanwhile Vega received 311 votes. Faber won over Saldivar by 10 more votes than the number of votes by which Vega had defeated him.
August administered the oath of office for the newly elected UDP First Deputy Leader.
Faber said that he would be general in his comments and he thanked the base of the UDP for their support of his candidacy.
“I believe in unity and you can expect nothing else from me but full collaboration with all of my colleagues to put back things in order to make sure that we are cognizant of who the enemy is in party politics, the People’s United Party,” Faber declared.
Faber added that his 13 colleagues who had supported him were called losers by Saldivar’s camp.
“So I say to the PUP, look out, there is new energy in the United Democratic Party. We will win a fourth term and continue in the footpath of our great leader, Hon. Dean Barrow,” said Faber.