BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Mar. 26, 2020– When the last United Democratic Party (UDP) party council meeting ended in disarray, Hon. Wilfred Elrington emerged from the meeting, telling reporters that democracy in the UDP was alive and well.
Elrington, however, dodged the question when he was asked if he would submit his name as a candidate for the post of UDP leader.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic caused the UDP to postpone their leadership convention, the list of candidates who have submitted their names to the party’s secretariat has been growing. There are now 5 persons in the race to lead the governing party, its chairman, Hon. Michael Peyrefitte, told News5 today, following the meeting of the Senate.
Peyrefitte went on to list the five applicants: “Five that I am aware of —Minister Saldivar, Minister Faber, Minister Figueroa, and now President Bradley and Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilfred Elrington,” he said.
Peyrefitte also confirmed that in Bradley’s case, by virtue of the fact that he is a member of the National Assembly, the UDP constitution makes provision for him to vie for the party leader post.
If Bradley, who is president of the Senate, were to win the race, the situation would be even more complicated for the UDP, because Bradley cannot be sworn in as prime minister.
Under the Constitution of Belize, the person who becomes prime minister is the person who commands the majority in the House of Representatives.
Therefore, since Bradley is not a member of the House of Representatives, a Bradley win would mean that Prime Minister Barrow would not be able to step down before the end of his term, because the UDP would not be able to install its First Deputy Leader, Hon. Hugo Patt, because there are no provisions in the Constitution for such a scenario.
On the other hand, the other four candidates are all members of the House of Representatives. Saldivar (Belmopan area representative) defeated Faber (Collet area representative), while Dr. Omar Figueroa (Cayo North area representative) was proposed as a Cabinet consensus candidate.
Faber, however, decided to enter the race, and this prompted Saldivar to re-enter the race he had won on February 9, but had to walk away from after his name became linked with US fraudster Lev Dermen.
Saldivar’s run as UDP leader-elect was short-lived, a mere 72 hours.
Whenever the UDP’s national convention is held, 570 delegates will decide which of the 5 candidates will get the majority of votes. Anyone who is able to convince 115 delegates will get the job to lead the UDP into the next general elections.
Feature photo: Top row (l-r) Dr. Omar Figueroa, Hon. Patrick Faber, Hon. John Saldivar, bottom row (l-r) Darrell Bradley and Hon. Wilfred Elrington