We start tonight with politics - where UDP Deputy Leader Patrick Faber yesterday officially launched his campaign for party leadership.

The convention for that will be held in February of next year, and Faber hit the ground running yesterday with a mega event at the Civic Center. Officially, it was an endorsement convention just for Faber's stronghold in Collett, but unofficially, it was the launch of the drive to February where everything is on the line for this young politician. Jules Vasquez was at the Civic for the political heat check:...

Jules Vasquez reporting
The Civic Center was draped with images of Faber - and convention goers were greeted by these towering figures, making him seem larger than life. And to buttress that image of an ascendant leader, supporters were bused in from all over the country.

But on Sunday, it was principally about the Collett division - where Faber said he was worked for 27 years:

Hon. Patrick Faber, Deputy Leader UDP
"We have shared so much together my Collet family - 27 years; 16 of which I have been your area representative."

"I have been your street campaigner, I have been your street captain, I have been your city council candidate, I have been your president of the IPF, I have been your Collet Standard Bearer and Area Representative, I have been your Belize District regional leader, I have been your party chairman, I have been your first deputy leader."

And now he wants to go one giant step higher, first giving an obligatory nod to the sitting leader:

Hon. Patrick Faber, Deputy Leader UDP
"I give a maximum salute to the man who have captained this ship through this era and I thank him for his stellar leadership, party leader and Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, we thank you sir. My grand goal now if you will have me is to continue this transformation into what will be the new Belize."

"My friends we are taking off from the path to the future. We thank you for being here and we welcome you on this journey to change Belize. I will serve you, if you let me, but all hands on deck is what is required if we are to fully bring about the new Belize. Thank you and God's blessings."

And while the confetti and pyrotechnics, the balloons and blasting music announced his arrival, it's really a numbers game - and these 14 Collet delegates who were sworn in. Each division has 14, and Faber has to get a majority of them on his side if he wants to be leader.

Inside we saw the standard bearers for Caribbean Shores, Lake Independence, OW Central, Orange Walk South, Cayo south along with area reps from Belize Rural South, Albert, Orange Walk East, Cayo Central and Former leader Manuel Esquivel.

They took up the front rows, while Faber's core supporters filled out the main seating area of an elaborately designed civic Center - but not a very full one.

The indoor convention under air conditioning had its advantages, but trying to energize a venue that can hold over five thousand with just a thousand or so supporters was a challenge.

And the gathering was not exactly inspired and, after a full lunch sponsored by the organizers who wouldn't want to.

But, to be fair, political conventions are rarely known for crowd cohesion or spirt, it's always a scattered affair. The point is - mass party muscle, and the question is, did Faber show enough of it to make him appear a viable candidate for leader?

Jules Vasquez, reporter
"What happens next?"

Hon. Patrick Faber, Deputy Leader UDP
"The ground work begins, delegate to delegate we are going to move around, but my work in this campaign is not only to campaign to delegates, it's to work on the party's structure whether I become the leader or not we will need to face the elections of 2020 and so I am running at simultaneous campaign - one that will me be prepared to win that convention in February, but also to prepare the party to win the general elections whenever they are in 2020."

Jules Vasquez, reporter
"Are you running into a headwind in so far as we know there has been a little friction in the cabinet as recently as last week and also we see only 7 constituencies representing here today."

Hon. Patrick Faber, Deputy Leader UDP
"Absolutely not. Most of the constituencies are represented here today, so I dont kmow where you get that from and I will tell you this as well that in fact the UDP is well and we will continue to keep things together."

"Mr. Finnegan, neither your former campaign manager is here."

Hon. Patrick Faber, Deputy Leader UDP
"I don't know why he is not here; you will have to ask him. But also we enjoy that support and also the Mesopotamia people are here and the delegates are here."

Jules Vasquez, reporter
"But at the end of the day the prime minister, in order for you to be successful, do you need his behind the scenes support or can you do it alone?"

Hon. Patrick Faber, Deputy Leader UDP
"Well the prime minister is sacred in all of this in my view. I saw in the last convention where he decided that he was not going to involve himself in campaigning for either candidate and I believe that is his position in this case as well."

Succession Tension

We note that while we counted 7 constituency area reps or standard bearers, and found 9 when we reviewed our footage, Faber's camp says we have it all wrong. His campaign manager Roosevelt Blades says, quote, "we had representation from 25 of the 31 constituencies yesterday." End quote.

And what was the crowd count? We'd put it at about 1,250, including a large number of persons who stayed outside where the food and drinks were.

And so, now that the convention is over - Faber moves unto the campaign trail. But, some reports say that the headwind he could be facing comes all the way from on high: no less than the Prime Minister's office.

The basic political calculus is that Faber is running for party leader, expects to win, and, very shortly after, step into the Prime Ministerial position for the last few months of the UDP's 5 year term. Except, the Prime Minister would have to step down after that convention - and up to now - he has not set a date. So, whether anyone will admit to it or not, there's tension between the man who would be King, and the man who still is. We asked Faber about it:

Jules Vasquez, reporter
"Based on what the prime minister has said in the past, do you expect his departure to be imminent or within a reasonable time so his successor can....?"

Hon. Patrick Faber, Deputy Leader UDP
"We are not going to make trouble Jules Vasquez. The Prime Minister has a right to stay in office up to the end of this current term of the UDP and it is his decision solely to decide when that is going to be the case, so the best man for you ask that question to is the prime minister himself."

Jules Vasquez, reporter
"Where do you stand now on the Joshua Perdomo issue? Reports say that you were scolded in the cabinet for your forthright statement that you wouldn't support it."

Hon. Patrick Faber, Deputy Leader UDP
"The matter has sailed. We know what the cabinet's position is, you know that I am a part of the cabinet and I am bound to that collective responsibility of the cabinet, so you are making mischief, Jules."

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