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May 29, 2006

U.D.P. convention endorses leader, charts course for 2008

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Coming off its March first landslide victory in municipal elections, Sunday’s U.D.P. national convention in Cayo did not have much to prove beyond its ability to feed, transport and entertain thousands of supporters from across the nation. And that it did, while at the same time electing a handful of new faces to its executive.

Carlos Perdomo, Standard bearer, Caribbean Shores
?So now we put all our efforts, all our energies and all our loyalty into one campaign that will change this corrupt and uncaring government.?

Janelle Chanona, Reporting
Fresh from its national convention in San Ignacio on Sunday, this afternoon the United Democratic Party held a press conference in Belize City to introduce the new members of its executive.

Gaspar Vega is the U.D.P.?s new first deputy leader, defeating Marcel Cardona and Carlos Perdomo. Doug Singh has been re-elected as chairman, overcoming opposition from John Saldivar. Frank ?Papa? Mena is now deputy chairman of the party, topping his challenger, Gonzalo Rosado. Erwin Contreras was endorsed as second deputy leader.

Gaspar Vega, First Deputy Party Leader, U.D.P.
?I believe that with my character, the United Democratic Party will have a better communication. I am convinced that I am a person that can communicate with anyone and everyone throughout this entire nation. That is my dream for us to have a party that belongs to everyone, not just a few or a special group of people.?

Frank ?Papa? Mena, Deputy Chairman, U.D.P.
?It?s about the people, and it?s not talk you know because people talk about, ?fi di people?. We don?t have any rights to be treated as second class citizens.?

Thousands of U.D.P. supporters gathered at the Macal River Park to participate in the party?s first national convention since 2001. That delay might have inspired what insiders called ?fierce? competition. Competition that appeared to climax in a last minute decision from Marcel Cardona to remove himself from the deputy leader?s race.

Dean Barrow, Party Leader, U.D.P.
?We will proceed now to do the business of our party and to do the business of our people with the kind of dispatch and efficiency that will guarantee us a victory at the next general elections.?

During Sunday?s convention, the party presented its policies on issues such as crime, good governance and taxation. Party leader Dean Barrow, himself endorsed by acclamation, admits most of the presentations were not new but asserts its stance on the oil industry is mandatory reading.

Dean Barrow
?The nation needs to know what?s in the contract. What is the rate of return, how long is the life of the contract? How soon will B.N.E. in fact make back what it has invested? You hear people talking about oh well we need to get a fifty fifty spilt or a seventy thirty split and clearly what the contract currently calls for is intolerable, and no Belizean and no political party will ever support that. But as to what should be the new spilt, we need the information before we can make a proper decision. I don?t think it?s particularly constructive just to be coming up with numbers and we don?t have the significant data so we certainly are calling for that.?

With the U.D.P. gearing up for general elections in 2008, the party maintains that the behaviour of its councils will be key to victory.

Dean Barrow
?We said from before we were elected, we want people to hold our feet to the flame. We want people to be constant in challenging us, constant in monitoring us, constant in insisting we do the right thing so for me, it is a somewhat, or potentially it can be dangerous exercise but it is one that is absolutely necessary. And I think its right that we stand or fall in what we do in the municipalities.?

According to the U.D.P., the next major party activities will be the endorsement of Rosendo Urbina in the Orange Walk Central constituency on the twenty-fifth of June and a national tour by Dean Barrow and Gaspar Vega later this year.

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