The People’s United Party is not giving up its effort to recall Cayo Northeast area representative Elvin Penner despite the determination of the Election and Boundaries Department that not enough signatures of registered voters in the division exist to support the petition given to the Governor General in November. Today attorney Senator Lisa Shoman summarized the legal basis on which the party prepares to ask for judicial review of the Department’s decision.
“The legal team of the People’s United Party has looked it over and we advised that the decision to reject the signatures can and should be challenged in the Supreme Court of Belize, by judicial review on the basis that these decision were unlawful, unreasonable, and in many cases, irrational. On the face of it, the Elections and Boundaries Department rejected out of hand, 79 plus 4 signatures on the basis that they were duplicated and triplicated respectively. This is an unreasonable decision to take because the recall of elected representatives gives the department no such power. Yesterday, after extensive and heavy questioning by the media, the Chief Elections Officer was in fact forced to admit that that is so”.
According to Shoman there are more than 140 signatures that should have been allowed, particularly those that were struck out for being duplicate and triplicate or not matching, as the Recall of Elected Representatives Act does not stipulate what is and is not acceptable. Furthermore she states, the Department should have tried as much as possible to enfranchise all voters in the area. According to PUP leader Francis Fonseca, the fact that they didn’t is indicative of a Government determined to undermine the process.
“The people of Cayo Northeast wish to rid themselves of Elvin Penner. This United Democratic Party government continues to embrace and defend Penner and they politically control the Elections and Boundaries Department as regrettably chosen the UDP over the people. The People’s United Party will mount and serious legal challenge to this decision and on the ground, we will mobilize politically in Cayo Northeast and across the country calling on all Belizeans who love this country and who wish to preserve our longstanding democratic traditions to join us. Let us take a united stand against this attack on our democracy”.
Former Chief Elections Officer and PUP Secretary General Myrtle Palacio says she regards current CEO Josephine Tamai’s remarks at Wednesday’s press conference as a threat to voters.
“Compounding this is the threat that party leader spoke about, emanating at the press conference yesterday, “Remember, according to the Act itself, those persons have committed an offense, (4 pages). Once you sign more than once, twice, three times”. This is false. Da wa lie; she lied, e liad…not so; it is untruth. I look at it as a threat no doubt, being sent to the Cayo northeast, with no other than the organization with responsibility for activities in our democracy, leading to the election or removal of an unsuitable elected official; serious business”.