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Is Barrow Leaving Earlier Than Expected?

August 16
21:08 2019

The United Democratic Party (UDP) announced during its National Party Council meeting on Saturday that it will hold its National Leadership Convention on Sunday, February 9, 2020. At the event at the Belize Civic Center, 560 delegates will have the duty to elect a new party leader, a jostle which is currently between Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy Party Leader Patrick Faber and Minister of National Security and Belmopan Area Representative, John Saldivar.

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The announcement triggered murmurs this week that UDP Leader, Prime Minister Dean Barrow might be considering demitting office in that capacity shortly after the convention to make space for his successor.

But UDP Chairman, Alberto August told the Reporter this week that “Our Party Leader will stay as long as is necessary to keep our party firmly united. …Mr. Barrow has the party’s approval to demit the Party Leader position whenever he deems the time to be right. No one is pushing him out. The party wishes he could stay.”

Speaking on the matter on Wednesday, Minister of Tourism Manuel Heredia told reporters that he personally does not believe in conventions but that both Faber and Saldivar are “exceptional, intelligent young guys…I believe they have a bright future, but let us see on the 9th of February who is the one that is more liked. Both of them are good but only one can become a winner, but importantly, unity is most important.”

Heredia said everyone knows who he supports, but when the media asked him whose corner he was in he did not say. On that issue of conventions, Heredia also expressed his pleasure that a relative who had expressed interest in challenging his seat in Belize Rural South has withdrawn his candidacy.

An ailing back which has caused him to seek medical attention abroad several times has been one of the primary reasons for Barrow to step down as UDP leader. He had even indicated that he was considering stepping down as PM, but in November of 2018, the Cabinet urged him to remain as Prime Minister until the next general elections, which is set for November of 2020.

Barrow will also stand down as Area Representative for Queen’s Square, and has announced his wish to have his sister, Denise “Sister B” Barrow succeed him.

Barrow has been the UDP leader since 1998 when he succeeded the defeated Manuel Esquivel. He entered electoral politics in 1983 as a candidate for Belize City Council elections and won as part of a nine-man slate. In 1984, he contested the newly created Queen’s Square constituency and defeated the PUP’s Ralph Fonseca. He became deputy UDP leader in 1990 under Esquivel after the death of Curl Thompson. He has been Prime Minister since 2008.

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