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Mar 28, 2022

U.D.P. Embraces Shyne Barrow as Its New Party Leader

The United Democratic Party has welcomed a new leader. All roads led to the big Bird’s Isle on Sunday, where over five hundred delegates cast their votes to elect a successor for Patrick Faber. It was a festive and friendly affair, complete with drumming and well-wishing from both camps. The leadership convention was the culmination of a few weeks of active campaigning for Shyne Barrow and Tracy Taegar-Panton, and when the last ballot was counted, Shyne prevailed over his opponent by a mere three votes. Notwithstanding the razor thin margin of defeat, the work of incoming party leader to heal the deeply fractured U.D.P. is just beginning. News Five’s Isani Cayetano has our first story.


Mike Peyrefitte

Mike Peyrefitte, Chairman, U.D.P.

“Two fifty-six in favor of Honorable Barrow and two fifty-three in favor of Honorable Panton.”


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Shyne Barrow’s meteoric rise to the highest office in the United Democratic Party, in a victory clinched only by a hairsbreadth, is the fastest ascent to the leadership of a political organization in Belize’s history. The rapper turned politician was the favored candidate going into Sunday’s convention. Many thought that Barrow would have won decisively, but his opponent, Tracy Panton, came within a few votes of an upset. Delegates from across all thirty-one constituencies descended on that venue to cast their vote. Arriving with a celebratory procession of supporters, Panton made her way to Bird’s Isle shortly after ten a.m.


Tracy Taegar- Panton

Tracy Taegar- Panton, Leadership Candidate, U.D.P.

“We’ve done the work.  We visited with the delegates. We’ve made the case and we feel very confident that we will deliver on our commitment to unite, to heal and rebuild the United Democratic Party.”


Isani Cayetano

“You’ve been beset by personal tragedy as well as other obstacles. How do you maintain your resolve in terms of proceeding with your campaign and being able to canvass as many delegates across the country?”


Tracy Panton

“You know, the man that I married would not want me to step away from my dreams or my hopes and aspiration for this country and so that gives me strength. And I know that he, along with my entire family, are there for me, protecting me, guiding me, supporting me, loving me through this and if that doesn’t strengthen somebody, something is wrong.”


Equally driven by the ambition to win the convention and follow in his father’s footsteps to someday lead this country, Shyne Barrow and his supporters were also a visible presence at the location.


Shyne Barrow

Shyne Barrow, Leadership Candidate, U.D.P.

“My campaign has been very practical, very grassroots, you know, not with bells and whistles and, you know, any type of circus activity but just really directly with the delegates. You know, I’ve refrained from media and publicity and just dealt directly with the delegates and so I’m very comfortable with those conversations and very comfortable with those commitments and it has been very inspiring when you listen to the unique challenges and aspirations that Belizeans who are U.D.P. and Belizeans all over have and what they want for their country and what they want in their party leader.”


Those attributes are embodied in his father. Since taking over leadership of the party in 1998, Dean Barrow remained in opposition for ten years before a three-term winning streak cemented his legacy. His influence over the U.D.P. is to Shyne’s advantage.


Dean Barrow

Dean Barrow, Former Party Leader, U.D.P.

“I served as leader of the party for all these years, I was three-time prime minister doesn’t that entitle me to call in whatever chips I may have in support of my son? There is nothing improper about that. There’s nothing at all unfair, not in the least.”



“Predicting any outcome for today, sir?”


Dean Barrow

“No, I only have a hope that my son will win.”


At the end of the convention, Shyne would indeed emerge victorious, getting away, as some would say, by the skin of his teeth. The narrow margin of victory, however, prompted others in Panton’s camp to request a recount of the number of ballots cast.


Mike Peyrefitte

“We had from early this morning gone through the process. We had the scrutineers come in, we explained everything to the representatives, watch the process because at the end of the day, the process will determine everything. The entire day we went through, both sides were happy with how the people came in, voted, deposited their ballots. When it was finished, the ballots were counted and when they were counted nobody had any concerns about how the counting took place. So then, it wouldn’t have made a difference.  That’s the result; two fifty-six to two fifty-three already tells you how the party is divided.  It’s close, no matter what, that’s the count and there was no discrepancy in the count, except for maybe one ballot.  Going either way wouldn’t make a difference.”


Here’s how Shyne reacted to that slim victory.


Shyne Barrow, Party Leader, U.D.P.

“You know, Michael Jordan has won championships by one basket, so it’s nothing new in life. The party is a healthy reflection of democracy. I think we handled ourselves pretty well, there wasn’t a lot of mudslinging any at all, you know, we kept it internal and Tracy and I have been in touch all throughout for parliamentary matters. Today when she walked in, I hugged her. When I walked past her as we’re both campaigning today we would say hello to each other and we shook hands and we embraced and we will move forward.”


Isani Cayetano for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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