BELMOPAN, Belize, Wednesday November 28, 2018 – Prime Minister Dean Barrow has had a change of heart. Six months after announcing that he planned to demit office before his five-year term is completed, a Cabinet statement has revealed that he’ll be staying on after all.
The statement said that the current trajectory of the ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) heading towards the 2020 general elections was discussed at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, and Ministers expressed “great satisfaction at the evidence of support for the [party], as measured by the large voter turnout at the UDP contested standard bearer conventions taking place every weekend since November 4”, although noting that those contests have been “as fierce as the turnouts have been huge”.
“In that context, Cabinet felt that once the standard bearer conventions conclude in mid-December, there should be a break in the remaining convention schedule to allow for healing and an organizational reset to take place at the individual constituency level,” the statement continued, adding that the remaining schedule, as originally contemplated, would have seen contested delegates’ conventions begin right after the start of the New Year, finish by March, and be followed by the UDP leadership convention a month or two thereafter.
“However, Cabinet revisited this proposed timetable in view of its conviction that it would be too rushed in the circumstances. Accordingly, Cabinet agreed to recommend to the UDP National Party Council a revised calendar that would stick to the Party’s Constitution, which states that the next UDP leadership convention cannot occur before January of 2020. As a consequence, the delegates’ conventions that must take place before the leadership convention will also now be moved back.”
“The notion of having the leadership convention before the time prescribed by the Party’s Constitution was precipitated by Prime Minister Dean Barrow’s declaration, to Cabinet and publicly, of his wish to retire before the end of the term mandated both by the UDP’s and the country’s Constitutions. But in light of what Cabinet sees as the exigencies of the situation, the Prime Minister has, on the urging of his Cabinet, agreed to stay on,” the statement said.
It stressed that the position was supported by all Ministers, including those not present at the meeting but who had previously indicated their agreement.
Following the announcement, the opposition People’s United Party issued a statement saying that it was “appalled”, as any right-thinking Belizean should be appalled and outraged, that the country’s policy-makers had “wasted time in Cabinet to discuss and debate a matter that is purely political”.