Parliamentary Coup Against Leader of The Opposition
We've been hinting at it for weeks, and, tonight, it seems it is on: a parliamentary coup against Leader of the Opposition Patrick Faber.
7News has received a copy of a letter, reportedly sent by email to the Governor General this afternoon. It is written on the letter head of Mesopotamia Representative Shyne Barrow, and signed by Shyne and two other representatives: Queens Square's Denise Barrow and Corozal North's Hugo Patt.
Those three form a majority of the UDP's 5 elected representatives and Shyne Barrow writes, quote, "the Hon. Patrick J Faber no longer enjoys the confidence of he majority of the opposition members of the House of Representatives. Hon Hugo Patt, Hon, Denise Barrow and myself no longer support Faber as leader of the opposition."
Those are lines written straight into history - and, from there, Shyne Barrow goes on to quote Section 47 of the constitution when it speaks about the Leader of the Opposition in the House being appointed as the one who has the support of the majority of opposition members.
And, in this case, Shyne tells the GG, it's him. Barrow's letter says, quote, "Opposition Chief Whip Mose Shyne Barrow enjoys the confidence of the majority of opposition members", end quote. So, by the facts laid out in the letter, he should become the new parliamentary leader of the opposition.
That's historic - and in just four days, it's the second major, decisive blow against Faber's leadership. On Thursday, a recall petition against him was submitted with he signature of more than half of the party's delegates.
And, now this - a letter which we understand will be hand delivered to the Governor General's office tomorrow. One comes after the other because the information coming out of the UDP is that Faber may mount a challenge to the recall petition.
For an opposition in disarray, it's another sharp detour on the party's long road to electability. But, it's not the first time this has happened. In 1983 when the UDP was in opposition, the party also saw a parliamentary coup against its then Leader Theodore Aranda, to install Curl Thompson as Leader of the Opposition in the House. At the same time, Manuel Esquivel was elected as Party Leader.
We'll see where this 2021 version goes.
Faber Recall Could Be Swift
The recall petition seeking to oust United Democratic Party Leader Patrick Faber is under review. Today, Chairman of the U.D.P., Michael Peyrefitte hosted a zoom briefing to talk about the process which includes verifying the signatures and then setting a time and place to do the recall vote. He notes that while there is no timeline set for the recall vote to take place, he intends to do it very soon. If Faber is recalled, the national convention must take place within three months from that date.
Michael Peyrefitte, Chairman, U.D.P.
“We have a petition on our desk, a recall petition. I have looked at it. I have called a Central Executive meeting for this Thursday. We will meet and discuss the way forward because my goal is to get it over with quickly. Go to a convention and have a vote, either they will vote, the delegates to keep the Honorable Patrick Faber as the leader or they will recall him. But my thinking is to just get on with it. Get it done as quickly as possible and give both sides a chance to get ready. Two-thirds, while some may say it is a high threshold, I think it is a fair threshold. If you want to remove someone then you have to come overwhelmingly in favor of removing the leader. All we are saying is that these are the delegates; these are the people eligible to vote. If a certain
amount of people come to vote and two-thirds say that he should be removed, and then he is removed. If that threshold is not met then Mr. Faber remains.
And It is not just two-thirds of the five hundred and eighteen. It is two-thirds of those who show up to vote. Because the U.D.P. constitution is clear – it is two-thirds of those present on the given day that the choice is made. So, if only five people show up that day and three votes to recall then he is recalled. If less than three votes for him not to be recalled, then he is not recalled. So, it is as simple as that.”
“Is there an option to perhaps meet with the group to for some sort of mediation process before taking it all the way to the national party council?”
“I would believe that that type of situation is always good and healthy. I would have hoped that that would have occurred before and there is nothing that prevents it from occurring now. But having filed the petition with the party, as the Chairman of the Party I have to respect that petition. But I don’t want to get involved in the two sides but if they choose to come together and Mr. Herrera were to approach the Secretariat and say that they must sit down with the leader nor can I tell the leader he must sit down that with them to work anything out but he they come to that on their own then that would be beautiful and we wouldn’t have to go through that but what I have before me is a petition and I have to proceed with that petition.”
John Saldivar Ineligible to Become Party Leader if Faber Recalled
So if Leader of the U.D.P. Patrick Faber is recalled and removed, who will succeed him? That is going to be left up to a national convention if more than one person offers him or herself for the position. If that happens, those persons come from a very small pool of eight people. In the meantime, however, should Faber be recalled, Deputy Party Leader Hugo Patt will assume the post as interim leader until a convention is called. While there has been speculation about the powers within the U.D.P. – namely pointing to John Saldivar, who is one of the leaders of the “Caucus for Change” that has triggered this recall process against Faber – today, Chairman Peyrefitte shut down those speculations as he made it clear that a Saldivar leadership would be unconstitutional as his current position hasn’t changed.
Michael Peyrefitte, Chairman, U.D.P.
“I have had no conversation with the Honorable John Saldivar concerning this matter. And in terms of him being leader, technically speaking, it is only eight people who can be the leader of the UDP. Our Constitution is clear. The UDP can only be led by a person in the National Assembly which consists of the five members of the House and the three members in the Senate. Those are the only eight people who can lead the UDP. So, if you look at Mr. Saldivar’s position, he is not in the National Assembly so at this time even if he is the person leading this charge and I have no evidence to think before me that the is the one doing it, I can assure you that he definitely knows because he definitely knows the Constitution well, that if Mr. Faber were to be removed at a recall convention he cannot be the leader unless he becomes a senator after that.”
“Do you have any interest in being the leader? You are a senator which makes you eligible.”
“I have in interest in rebuilding the party. I think the party needs a lot rebuilding right now and as chairman I think I am in a good position to deal with all these constituency organizations and committees and that is where my energies lie.”
We asked the chairman if anyone has indicated interest in leading the party, but he says that he hasn’t received any indication of this from any of the seven members of the National Assembly.
U.D.P. Chairman Says Dean Barrow is “Retired And Gone”
Chairman Michael Peyrefitte was also asked whether former Prime Minister Dean Barrow still wields any power in the United Democratic Party and whether or not he has weighed in on the current leadership issues.
Michael Peyrefitte, Chairman, U.D.P.
“I can assure you that he does not. As I said before in a previous interview, the Right Honorable Dean Barrow we hold in the highest of esteem; however, he is retired and gone. This is our U.D.P. now and whatever we are going through it is on our own. I can tell you, for example, I have not spoken to him. I have not had a word with him concerning this process. Because he knows and I know he has no business in this. This is for us now to solve on our own. He was definitely a formidable figure in the U.D.P. and when a person like that leaves for a while you struggle to get on your feet so to speak. But I can assure you that we are the ones trying to solve it and come to a solution on our own without those influences. They have retired and they have all said, including himself, Mr. Finnegan, all the veterans of the Party have always said we are here for advice, for guidance, if you ask for it. But they won’t interfere in this process or I won’t allow them to.”