By Benjamin Flowers
The United Democratic Party (UDP) has set the date for its National Party Convention for Sunday, March 20th.
At the convention, to be held at the Stann Creek Ecumenical Junior College auditorium in Dangriga, candidates will contest for various party positions including: Party Leader, First and Second Deputy Party Leader, as well as Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson.
A group of 560 delegates, will vote to decide who will fill the contested positions, most notably for the role of party leader.
The 560 is broken down into 15 per constituency, two past leaders, two each from the youth and women’s arm of the party, the five senators and 62 votes by way of elected mayors and councillors.
Persons who form the party’s central executive and various party committees will also be eligible to vote.
Current Party Chairman, Alberto August, explained that the party’s constitution calls for a national convention every two years; however, last year was filled with events which took precedence over the convention.
“2015 was a year of four elections for our party – two bi-elections, one municipal and the general election, so we were busy organizing for those events which were more important than internal party matters,” August said.
August did not comment on the UDP strategy behind selecting a new party leader this early into the current political term but the selection would put them only months behind the People’s United Party’s (PUP) selection, effectively putting each party on relatively equal footing.
He added that every member of the UDP has been grooming themselves to prepare for a leadership role in the party. Interested candidates must submit their names to the UDP secretariat no later than 5:00 p.m. on Friday January 29th.
To date, no candidate has submitted their names and August said it is likely that none will do so before the week of the 29th. Sources have told the Reporter, however, that Collet representative Patrick Faber, and Belmopan representative John Saldivar, are considering submitting their names for the post of Party Leader.
The last UDP national convention was held on February 17th, 2013 in Corozal.