Photo: Godwin Haylock
BELIZE CITY, Sun. Apr. 2, 2023
The United Democratic Party Queen’s Square constituency chairman, attorney Godwin Haylock, was today elected its standard bearer, polling 764 votes over competitor Shane Williams’ 119, in a contested convention.
The constituency, the nation’s third smallest, saw 870 of its 2,760 registered voters, or just over 31%, turn out for the partisan political contest. Haylock was immediately sworn in by UDP chairman Michael Peyrefitte on the grounds of the St. John’s Primary School after the voting had ended at 4:00 p.m. and the counting was completed.
Haylock not only becomes the first UDP Queen’s Square candidate not named “Barrow” since the division was created in 1984, but the first to win the party’s only contested Queen’s Square constituency convention in its history.
Former UDP leader and prime minister, the Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, served eight terms as its area representative before his sister and long-time constituency chairman, Hon. Denise “Sista B” Barrow, was chosen as its candidate and won in the November 2020 general elections.
She received 1,351 of the 2,431 votes cast at that time, and late last year it was reported that she did not intend to seek re-election.
Some observers and constituents were startled when she was seen visiting voters in support of Haylock’s campaign over the last few weeks, since she had hardly visibly participated in any party activities over the past 2 years, despite having been named to its shadow cabinet in December 2020.
While her prolonged absences from meetings of the House of Representatives since March 2021 have been called out as recently as a week ago by Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño, she has been consistently defended by her nephew, UDP leader Hon. Moses “Shyne” Barrow.
Any demitting by her or dismissal from the seat would pose a serious obstacle to Hon. “Shyne” retaining the constitutional post of Leader of the Opposition in the House. On Saturday he scored a veritable coup when the UDP’s National Party Council voted 102-16 to retain him and other executive officers in their posts unchallenged through to the 2025 general elections.
He later said in media interviews that the party will now turn its attention to the selection of candidates and slates for the March 2024 municipal elections. In a telephone interview, the acting UDP general secretary Armead Gabourel said that the next contested standard bearer nomination convention would be held for the Corozal South West constituency on April 23rd.
It has not been officially verified, but it seems that 3 of the 5 serving UDP area representatives will be returning as candidates for re-election, while a fourth, their longest serving area representative and former party leader, Hon. Patrick Faber, continues to be at odds with the UDP leader. He was officially replaced as a candidate by the constituency’s chairman, Ian Jones, who may, or not, have resigned or relinquished the candidacy over the past 2 weeks.
Former area representatives in several divisions have reportedly been endorsed as candidates, while John Saldivar, the powerful chairman of the Caucus for Change, won re-election as the standard bearer for the Belmopan constituency 3 weeks ago. He and 3 other members of the caucus of former UDP area representatives were very much in evidence today supporting Haylock.
The Shane Williams campaign acknowledged and accepted the decisive defeat, noting that, while it spent between $18k and 20K on its entire months-long campaign, inclusive of a large free live music concert, they estimated their opponent spent more than $35,000 on voting day last Sunday alone.