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(l-r) Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington, Pearl Stuart and Ashton McKenzie

The election of Patrick Faber as party leader-elect of the UDP has seemingly triggered a number of departures in the party.

Since the UDP convention on Sunday, July 12, at which Faber was elected, Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs and area representative for the Pickstock division, and Ashton McKenzie, mayor of Punta Gorda, have announced their resignation from electoral politics.

Also, Pearl Stuart, secretary-general of the party under the Barrow administration, tendered her resignation two weeks ago.

While being interviewed by the media on Sunday after the convention, Elrington officially announced that he would not be seeking re-election in the Pickstock division. The 71-year-old politician said that he felt obliged to put his name forward for leadership in a final bid to perhaps steer the country through a difficult time, despite having a very low chance of success.

Elrington said that history would record that he had put himself forward for leadership of the country in a time when strong and experienced leadership was needed. Elrington commented that he would not be involved in the selection of his replacement in the Pickstock division, and he has chosen to exit politics as a whole.

His resignation now leaves that Pickstock division without a UDP standard-bearer, with the general elections just four months away.

Ashton McKenzie, on the other hand, announced his retirement from electoral politics in a social media post a couple days ago. McKenzie said that his retirement would take effect at the end of his term as mayor of Punta Gorda.

He said that March 2021 will complete his sixth year in electoral politics at the municipal level, and in an interview with local media he said that his resignation has nothing to do with the election of Patrick Faber as UDP party-elect, despite his public endorsement of John Saldivar in the previous convention.

McKenzie said,” While there has been a mixture of applause and criticism, I am anxious to see what the next mayor of Punta Gorda will do, and bring for Punta Gorda Town, because most things are easier said than done.”

Two weeks ago, the Secretary-General of the UDP, Pearl Stuart, tendered her resignation. Prime Minister Dean Barrow said that Stuart had indicated that she would step down when he does so himself, to give the new party leader the opportunity to choose his own secretary-general.

Barrow said that while Stuart served the entire party, they have worked closely together and at times, she was considered his personal secretary.

Gaspar Vega steps down

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In a letter dated July 14, 2020, Gaspar Vega formally announced his resignation as area representative for the UDP Orange Walk North division. His resignation comes just days after Patrick Faber’s rise to the position of leader-elect of the United Democratic Party.

In his letter, Vega said, “It was not an easy decision, as I truly love and value the people of Orange Walk North.”

While this resignation letter clearly confirms his departure from the forefront of electoral politics, he said that his involvement with the UDP and politics in Orange Walk North will not end there. Vega confirmed that he will work with his party to find a suitable replacement in his division, and pledged that he would lend his support to deliver a victory for the UDP in the upcoming general elections.

Readers will recall Vega’s previous resignation from Cabinet in 2016 after a major land scandal surfaced involving himself, as Minister of Lands, and his son, Andre Vega.

Andre Vega was paid $400,000 by government for a duplicate Minister’s Fiat Grant. He was subsequently ordered by the Supreme Court of Belize to return the money to the Government, but it is not known if that court case has been definitively concluded and the money returned.

Vega has been underground for some time, absent from meetings at the House of Representatives and from the public domain generally.

UDP party leader-elect, Patrick Faber, has publicly spoken strongly against Gaspar Vega in the past, because of corruption allegations in the Lands Department, which was under Vega’s portfolio.

However, in a recent interview, Faber commented, “I don’t see a better candidate for the UDP in Orange Walk North.”

With the general elections just four months away, Vega’s departure will leave yet another gap for the UDP to fill.