BELIZE CITY, Sun. June 21, 2020– General elections are scheduled to be held in November, but the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the selection of a new leader for the governing United Democratic Party (UDP). The UDP’s second leadership convention was initially scheduled to take place in April, before the pandemic struck.
Reports now are that the UDP will hold their leadership convention on Sunday, July 12, at the ITVET compound in Belize City, where delegates will choose one person from the crowded field of aspirants to lead the party into the 2020 general elections.
Last February, the UDP elected the Belmopan area representative Hon. John Saldivar as its new leader, after he defeated Hon. Patrick Faber (Collet), following what observers say was a very expensive campaign.
Saldivar, however, had to step away from the post when evidence was presented in the Lev Dermen fraud case in Salt Lake City, Utah, that revealed that he had received money which Dermen had acquired through a fraud scheme.
Dermen was later convicted of all the criminal charges on which he had been indicted.
In Belize, authorities announced that there was a criminal probe of Hon. Saldivar to determine if any laws were broken. That probe is still a live matter, for which the nation is awaiting the results from police investigators.
It came as a surprise, therefore, when Hon. Saldivar was allowed to cast his hat into the ring for another shot at the UDP leader post.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow, who has been at the helm of the party for more than two decades and is about to retire, had promised that he would retire from his post early enough so that whoever succeeds him would have enough time to prepare the party for the general elections.
Although the field for the leader post has four candidates, some political observers are saying that the race is essentially between the two longtime rivals, Hon. Saldivar and Hon. Faber.
There had been talk following the last UDP party council meeting that some Cabinet ministers had threatened to resign if Hon. Saldivar was not allowed to run.
When the balloting takes place to select a new UDP leader, 570 party delegates will cast votes for the 4 UDP parliamentarians in the race. These are Senate president Darrell Bradley, the only one in the race without a constituency; Hon. Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington (Pickstock), Hon. Patrick Faber (Collet), and Hon. John Saldivar (Belmopan).
It should be noted that the UDP Secretariat has not yet issued an official release on the convention.