It has been two days since the National UDP convention to choose that party’s Deputy Party Leader. The campaign process for internal party politics can be as heated as the campaigns for general elections and the Patrick Farber and John Saldivar camps spent a hefty load of money on advertisements and the courting of their UDP delegates.; but in the end, as we reported on Monday, Patrick Farber won by a descent margin of 88 voters. Today, the media got word that a group of “disenfranchised” UDP ministers who clearly were pushing for John to win, were having a pre- cabinet meeting in Belmopan today at Saldivar’s residence. Speculations began circulating primarily on social media that there was a list of demands drawn up by the group, including keeping Gaspar Vega as Deputy Prime Minister; a post traditionally reserved for the post won by Patrick Faber. While we could not confirm the speculations, it caused the media to lay wait the cabinet ministers after the weekly Tuesday cabinet meeting to shed some light on the rumors. Plusnews did manage to speak to Minister John Saldivar this afternoon as he exited the building and according to him, there is no truth to those rumors.
Reporter: Could dispel the rumors that are out there
Hon John Saldivar, Minister of National Security: Absolutely not, we respect the outcome of our party convention. We respect the fact that Minister Faber has won. He has earned the title of deputy party leader, and the Prime Minister will confer on him next week the title of Deputy Prime Minister. We totally respect that. We of course maintain our support for our Prime Minister, Hon. Dean Oliver Barrow, and that is how we stand at this time. I am happy for the support that we were able to garner and I look forward to the battle that is ahead in terms of the leadership of the party, I feel that my message was the right message, it was a message of maturity. It was a message of calmness, it was a message of continuity and that message still holds, I believe that in time, whenever the Prime minister decides to step down, we will be back again to make that same message to the people of Belize.
But there was something that caused several of the Misters to be late to this morning’s cabinet meeting, and as we told you, our sources say those tardy ministers were at Saldivar’s house prior to the cabinet session.
Hon John Saldivar, Minister of National Security: Absolutely no truth, I don’t know where you guys get your information. Some members of Cabinet showed up late of course, that happens all the time. But I will tell you that we were in Cabinet. We had a normal Cabinet meeting g and its business as usual. The Prime Minister informed us in that meeting that next week Tuesday he will be appointing Hon. Faber as his Deputy Prime Minister. We fully respect that and we’ve been saying this from the very beginning and I think maybe people do not believe, Minister Faber and I are friends. We do have our own ambitions, we do have our own career path that we would like to take and part of it played out on Sunday and he won the first battle and I do believe that I will win the war
We also asked Saldivar to comment on the rumor that there was also a demand made to the Prime Minister to conduct a small Cabinet reshuffle and have the ministry of Lands portfolio removed from Minister Godwin Hulse.
Hon John Saldivar, Minister of National Security: Like I said I don’t know where you guys get your stories from but certainly that is not accurate. We love our Prime Minister, we love our party, and there’s absolutely no where that any of us, the 14 ministers that supported my candidacy would ever try and hijack this government or would every try and hijack our Prime Minister and we reiterated that in Cabinet today, we reiterated that to our Prime minister so that any talk about trying to make demands on him, we respect him and we love him, we love our party, and we wish to remain in government for the next 4 years and to gain a fourth term and that is what we’re working towards.
Hon. Patrick oFaber explained what happened a little differently and says he believes they were able to settle cabinet’s fears.
Hon Patrick Faber, Candidate for 1st Deputy Leader: I do know that they indeed had a meeting because the cabinet meeting started a bit late, but I can confirm to you that there was no such demand made on the Prime Minister; that, in fact, once the members of the cabinet who were late CAM in, we conducted the people’s business first. We did the minutes and we did of course the business that was on hand. After which we had a discussion on Sunday’s convention that started with the Prime Minister making a statement and then I myself making a statement, talking about of course my commitment to making sure that we heal as I was aware that in fact several of my colleagues, who did not support, were possibly unhappy. And the way I judge that of course is because of from the amount of them who made some effort to say congratulations; there were only I think four of them. So I realized that things weren’t all well with them and so I made that commitment. I had gotten to Belmopan earlier and had a private meeting with the Prime Minister in his office and as a result I had already made a commitment to him that I was going to do everything that was within my power to make sure that I extend an olive branch to my colleagues because I knew that their feelings were still very raw. I kinda got a hint of that, as I said. And so that was the way it went. And then after I spoke, Minister Saldivar spoke and we went around the table sharing. And you know people said what they didn’t like and we agreed on all sides that we will work on making sure that things were healed. We admitted that it may take us a little while, but that everybody was open. Some healing actually happened in the room this morning and there is no truth at all to the colleagues making any such demand on the Prime Minister
Both Saldivar and Faber in their interviews on Sunday committed themselves to uniting the party after the heated and tense convention.