Belize Opposition Leader confident of defeating moves to remove him

Opposition Leader, Shyne Barrow, says he is confident of withstanding efforts to oust him as leader of the main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) and is also pointing an accusing finger at some “forces” within the ruling People’s United Party (PUP).

Last weekend, a group of disgruntled UDP members, including the party’s vice chairman, Alberto August, announced plans for a recall convention to discuss the removal of Barrow, who became leader in March this year at a leadership convention, amassing 256 votes as against 253 for his closest rival, Tracy Panton.

August has presented documents containing the signatures of party members urging the recall convention and party officials said the petitions will be vetted, before a decision is announced on the way forward regarding the fate of the convention.

“When this recall is triggered, we are hoping that nothing gets nasty.  The UDP has gone through enough and so we will be meeting privately with the delegates and seeking to campaign with them.  That’s about it,” said August.

Asked to explain what has brought about the need to recall Barrow, the UDP vice chairman said “we , we don’t want to go down this road.

“Like I said, the UDP has been through too much.  We have triggered the constitutional requirements of the party in terms of the recall of the party leader and that is what we are doing.  We are leaving it at that.

“We are not here to badmouth the party leader, to badmouth anybody in the party, we are just simply fulfilling Article 7 of our party’s constitution.  We move from there.  The next step, like I said, we are going privately to speak with the delegates and campaign and we hope that the next side does the same thing,” August added.

Media reports here said that Barrow, a former rapper, has come under much criticism for his style of leadership, but has brushed aside such criticisms pointing to the work he has done since coming to office six months ago.

“In six months, I set a schedule for standard bearers conventions, for delegates conventions, everything that I have promised, I have kept my word.  So if you have to lie to people to get them to sign a petition against me, that’s sad,” Barrow told reporters.

“But this is politics, we will continue forward.  We have a plan, before this happened we had conventions scheduled for the delegates, the standard bearers.  We have a constitution reform committee to look at our constitution and to amend it.  We have a membership drive to engage our current membership and to hopefully attract new members.  We have work to do.”

He said he would not rule out parliamentarians within the ruling PUP being in collusion to implement the plan to oust him.

“There are external forces, in my view, PUP special interests, who, in their vested desire to have a destabilized, divided UDP, will translate into a victory for the PUP in the next general elections and that is what this is all about.

“And so, what do you do?  You play on the selfish desires of people, you play on their ambitions, you play on their desperation and that is what has resulted in our current situation where six months ago I won the election,” Barrow said, adding that he was chosen after all stakeholders had campaigned for the position.

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