On Saturday the UDP's National Party Council voted "yes" to allow John Saldivar to run as a candidate for its upcoming Belmopan convention on February 5th. That vote overrules the decision made by the Special Committee on December second which found, quote, "it is in the best interest of the Party that Mr Saldivar's candidacy be disallowed".

Well, the National Party council felt differently - and, on Saturday in a virtual meeting, voted 39 to 43 in favor of allowing Saldivar's candidacy to go to a convention in Belmopan on February fifth, 2023.

It again asserts Saldivar's powerful pull within the party as the leader of the Caucus For Change - since many in that group voted for him. Publicly, it would also seem to be a defeat for Shyne Barrow who campaigned publicly against Faber's continued candidacy - but - in a more telling strategy - did little to influence that outcome within the party.

But, whatever games are being played, Saldivar lives to fight another day - and, most observers would say, his odds at winning the convention are above average.

Today, in a Zoom press briefing, party Chairman Mike Peyrefitte said that the decision is now left to the UDP supporters in Belmopan:

Michael Peyrefitte, Chairman, UDP
"But like he made very clear to the national party council afterwards that he took a position, but the decision of the NPC is a decision of the NPC and nobody is bigger than the NPC and sometimes you take positions and you are outvoted by the majority. That's a normal course of action in a party that is democratic. Democracy is messy at times. It's not the neatness of things at all, but the NPC had its say and then now the people of Belmopan will have their say. We can't imagine a better outcome than that."

Reporter
"Don't you expect that this will hurt the party down the road?"

Michael Peyrefitte, Chairman, UDP
"Time will tell. That is up to the people of Belmopan and that is up to the people of Belize for them to make that decision. That's not up to a designation by the US."

Jules Vasquez
"If John Saldivar is if he emerges successful from that convention, will that give the UDP ticket going into the next general election a winning look?"

Michael Peyrefitte, Chairman, UDP
"Well, I think you could interpret that anyway. I think you could come to an opinion on that on any side that you want. But I think even more important than that is that the people of Belmopan decided by the NPC, the people of Belmopan should have a say in that."

But, many who were supposed to have a say in the NPC meeting say they could not get into the Zoom session. And for those who did, reports tell us it was a combative atmosphere with a lot of rough talk. We asked the Chairman about that:

Jules Vasquez
"Mr. Chairman, there has been specific allegations made against the management of the meeting. We saw the post from Tracy Taegar Panton, she said that the conduct of the meeting was not at all collegial, to use a euphemism. Would you speak about those hard words that were exchange at the start of the meeting I am told?"

Michael Peyrefitte, Chairman, UDP
"Well there were hard words throughout the meeting and it was about 2-3 hours and I don't think that we ever don't have harsh words during a UDP meeting. We are not monolithic; we're democratic party and the constitution encourages harsh words and back and forth. That's the medium where you do it."

Jules Vasquez
"We know that Mr. Faber was kicked out. He shares his screenshot. According to Tracy Taegar Panton, her chairperson and secretary weren't allowed into the meeting. That is her claim. Was there misconduct or a less than inclusive and optimal behaviour in the management of that zoom NPC meeting?"

Michael Peyrefitte, Chairman, UDP
"No."

Jules Vasquez
"What do you make of the allegations made by Mr. Faber that he was kicked out and he shared the screenshot. What you make of the allegations of Miss Tracy Taegar Panton that her secretary and chairman were not allowed in?"

Michael Peyrefitte, Chairman, UDP
"They tend to make allegations every single day. After a while you don't simple have time to entertain all of them. There was nothing wrong with the meeting."

Jules Vasquez
"But we saw the screenshot where Mr. Faber was kicked out. I know that he had a week of attacking you and other leaders of the UDP, but it still shows that he has, that as a member of the national assembly, he should have a seat on the NPC."

Michael Peyrefitte, Chairman, UDP
"Like I said, the meeting was carried, the decision was made and we move on."

Jules Vasquez
"You aren't addressing the concrete allegations of misconduct in the management of the meeting?"

Michael Peyrefitte, Chairman, UDP
"Well you see Jules, you hear about court, then they hire lawyers, then the whole press conference with prominent attorneys in the middle explaining violations of the constitution. I have to keep my words to myself in the event we end up in court."

And while it is unlikely that anything will end up in court, one man who, for sure isn't going there is John Saldivar. He today posted a "touchy-feely" thank you message saying, quote, "I thank all those members of the National Party Council who stood bravely in upholding justice, your bravery has saved our Party. I pledge my unwavering support to our Party Leader...Shyne Barrow...while I feel compelled to call for respect for and inclusion of all our other leaders, Patrick Faber, Tracy Panton, Hugo Patt, and Denise Barrow. I also call on those leaders to respect and support our Party Leader. Let us draw a line and cease the hostilities. I am ready for peace, I am ready for unity." End quote.

And while his "aw shucks" sentimentalism is marginally newsworthy - it's left to be seen now what role Shyne Barrow will play in the upcoming Belmopan convention since the man who it was perceived had the best chance of unseating Saldivar has stepped down. That is former mayor Khalid Belisle, who wrote to the party on Friday saying he's withdrawing his candidacy for Belmopan.

Channel 7