The leader of the opposition United Democratic Party Patrick Faber survived Belize’s first-ever recall petition held Sunday at Birds Isle in Belize city. Faber emerged still holding unto leadership but with less than half of his party’s delegates supporting him which raises credible questions of legitimacy. The recall mechanism was triggered by a petition signed by a majority of the party’s 521 delegates seeking to remove Faber who since taking over the UDP in July 2020 has led the party to a disastrous general elections defeat on 11 November 2020 and a consecutive landslide defeat at the 3 March 2021 Belize municipal elections. The two defeats opened the way for the ruling People’s United Party to secure an unprecedented super majority in parliament and at the municipal level
At the end of the convention after several hours at the polls at 4:00 in the evening, UDP party chairman Michael Peyrefitte certified the results “Four hundred and eighty-three delegates cast their vote. Two hundred and twenty-six said yes, they wanted Patrick Faber to remain the leader of the United Democratic Party and two hundred and fifty-seven said no, they don’t want him to remain the leader of the party. The two hundred twenty-six is more than one-third that was necessary for Mr. Faber to remain the leader of the U.D.P. and so therefore, with those numbers Patrick Faber remains the leader of the United Democratic Party.”
The vote was taken in line with the party’s constitution which reads: “The Party Leader may at any time be removed from the office of the Party Leader following a petition calling for his or her removal signed by at least one-third (1/3) of the registered delegates to the National Convention and a vote of at least two-thirds (2/3) of registered delegates in attendance voting in favour of the petition.”
Mr. Faber told the media that he will try to reunite the party while he continues to receive therapy for his mental health issues. In the weeks before the convention a video surfaced on social media showing Faber in an altercation with the mother of one of his children. In the video Faber can be seen and heard charging towards towards her and trying to kick down a bedroom door. This follows a pattern of previous incidents including one where his government issue SUV ended in the sea behind a casino in Belize city, charges of misogyny, assaulting a female Ministry of Education staffer, and being arrested by police in Georgia USA after an incident near a school. Patrick Faber: “I’m taking measures to address that issue, my therapy continues and it in fact is in my view helping tremendously as I’m moving forward and I’ happy about that and I look forward to having better days and I’m hoping that those situations never repeat themselves.”
In a televised interview following the convention Hon. Moses Shyne Barrow, Leader of the Opposition said “We feel emboldened, those of us who want reform, who want real change – feel emboldened by the fact that 54% of the people said no. A majority is a majority is a majority. And so as the chairman of the party said, Mr. Faber needs to do come soul searching and I don’t think that those therapy sessions are working. I see all over the media he’s taking pot shots at his colleagues. He is running down the delegate list saying that the delegates list is stock. But I’d like to tell him that his mother, his sister, his sister-in-law are on his delegate list. He is being disingenuous when he tries to make it seem as if it is not normal practice for all the constituency leaders to put who they deem fit on their delegate list. So we are not walking away, we are going to continue the resistance. Twelve months will go by like nothing. The next national convention will be here next year and I will continue to work until then for real change, real reform.”
The UDP is scheduled to have its leadership convention in October 2021 and those that oppose Mr. Faber’s leadership, including Leader of the Opposition Hon. Moses Michael “Shyne” Barrow are expected to move at that time in another attempt to topple Mr. Faber. The UDP finds itself in a difficult situation where the Leader of the Opposition and the Party leader are at odds.