By Marion Ali
At a National Executive Meeting last Wednesday the People’s United Party high command made a unanimous decision to remove Arthur Saldivar as its standard-bearer for the Belize Rural North constituency.
PUP Leader Francis Fonseca, told reporters that “with immediate effect Mr Arthur Saldivar is removed as the standard bearer for Belize Rural North for the People’s United Party and is removed as a member of the National Executive of the party.”
Fonseca said that the party will move to convene immediately a meeting in the Belize Rural North area to begin the process of selecting a new standard bearer for the PUP.
The decision, said Fonseca, was not an easy one.
“It is never easy for anyone to sit in judgement of any colleague of theirs.”
Fonseca continued that he thought that it was in the best interest of the PUP and Saldivar that he (Saldivar) not participate in party politics and not represent the party as a standard bearer.
Fonseca said he believed that Saldivar needs to deal with the allegations that have surfaced.
Fonseca would not divulge the details of the report which he referred to as “an internal report” and conceded that as a party they will have to deal with whatever consequences that would follow, including the possibility that Saldivar will run independently in Belize Rural North.
PUP Chairman Henry Usher explained that the scope of the committee’s work was not to determine Saldivar’s guilt or innocence, but simply to make a decision based on the facts presented.
Following the PUP announcement, Saldivar invited a few local television stations to an interview at the Radisson Fort George Hotel during which he expressed shock at the outcome of the report. But he said, it doesn’t really faze him.
Saldivar said that the report did not yield anything; that the allegations were baseless, and if consideration had been given to the facts, there would have been a different outcome.
Saldivar indicated that he will contest the general elections in Belize Rural North as an “independent PUP” with the full support of his committee.
He pointed out that the PUP constitution requires that there be a national convention, and that “all positions are open for contesting at that time.”
The Saldivar camp’s Public Relations Officer, Oswin Blease, suggested that the PUP’s National Campaign Manager, Godfrey Smith was the person behind Saldivar’s removal.
He alleged that Smith wanted another attorney, Dickie Bradley, to replace Saldivar for the party in Belize Rural North. Fonseca denied the allegation and said that he felt the party made the right decision.
Blease pointed to the fact that despite the decision, there is no police report against Saldivar in relation to an allegation by Melonie Coye, one of Saldivar’s clients who claims that Saldivar took more than $900,000 of her money.
Blease said that all that was brought against Saldivar involved his personal behaviour ,and his committee was expecting a reprimand rather than a removal.
The decision against Saldivar follows the establishment by the PUP of a four-member committee, comprised of Party Chairman, Henry Usher; Legal Advisor, Anthony Sylvestre Jr.; and two members of the Order of Distinguished Services, Cassian Nuñez and Armando Valdez, to investigate a number of allegations made publicly against Saldivar.