PUP launch recall challenge in Cayo Northeast

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With official confirmation that United Democratic Party (UDP) area representative and former Minister of State for Immigration and Border Protection Elvin Penner would not resign his post, the effort by the People’s United Party (PUP) to force a recall referendum, the first in Belizean history under the law introduced in 2010, hit high gear this weekend. PLUS News was in Esperanza, where PUP operatives led by Deputy Party Leader and chair of the Western Caucus Julius Espat tried to persuade supporters and opponents alike to see their point of view. Mr Espat told us that the PUP could not put aside its opportunity to test the new law.

Hon. Julius Espat- Deputy Leader of the People’s United Party

vlcsnap-2013-10-08-07h33m24s94“Of course, everybody is online!   And what Castro did is unacceptable.   What Mark King is also unacceptable, but you see…the people of Belize have to realize one thing:  when a poor man does something, they are instantaneously arrested, he goes to jail, he has no recourse, but when a politician does it, you see all kind of defense; the Prime Minister goes on the television and defends him now to ‘nomo-nomo’!   Well, the politician is no different than a regular Belizean, and that is where we need to get at, is that they need to be held accountable for their actions…PUP or UDP, and this is the time for us to test it the people have to stop complaining and putting their frustration and putting it to actions, and this is the way we can put it into action’.

Julius Espat later referred to the UDP possibly trying to intimidate or buy off constituents to stop the process in its tracks, saying the PUP would be ready for them. But with the recent debacle over OCEANA’s non-political effort on offshore drilling for petroleum which saw thousands of signatures rejected for not matching those on the voter record card, how would the PUP ensure the same thing did not happen to them?  Orlando Habet, the man who has been endorsed as the PUP’s candidate in the division, explains.

Orlando “Landy” Habet – PUP Caretaker, Cayo Northeast
vlcsnap-2013-10-08-07h34m09s20“Firstly, on our form we have a space where our Justice of the Peace, which is along with each team, in each group, and going house to house if they have to, to be present to sign on to that document, to verify and witness that the person who is signing is that person who’s identification has been presented.  Additionally, we’re asking everybody to bring their voter’s ID, or any other identification, two if necessary, so that we can have a copy of those to attatch on to each document.”

 

The legislation requires the petition to be signed by 30% of registered voters in the division the affected politician represents. At least 65% of registered voters must participate in the subsequent by-election to make it valid, and the decision for or against recall is carried by a simple majority. When we met up with Julius Espat and Orlando Habet they told us that their efforts were bearing fruit. A formal rally was held in San Ignacio Town on Sunday to drum up support although the PUP’s complained that certain UDP high officials were also meeting in the area. Information to us is that mass text messages have been sent out urging voters not to support the effort. But Mr Habet says for those who feel afraid, they should not be.

Orlando “Landy” Habet – PUP Caretaker, Cayo Northeast
“The fear is always there.  The Government as we know of the day has operated in that fashion before, we have evidence of what has transpired on previous occasions, even at Conventions, where people have been a little bit scared of participating in our conventions., especially those public officers who have a job to protect.   However, we have been getting calls from these people, especially public officers, that we go to their homes and we take along the Justice of the Peace, to witness their signatures from home.  So whatever we cannot get out here, they are asking us to go to their homes, to please go to their homes, because they want to sign but they do not want to be seen out here.  Nevertheless, their names will be on the document.  The Government is going to get a copy of that document.  I believe it has become time now, where people are putting all the fear aside and they will be signing because they are unto it. Because they believe a change is near, a change is coming.”

The PUP has hinted at starting the recall process in other divisions. A 17-14 split in the House of Representatives means a successful recall and subsequent by-election in favour of the PUP would see their return to Government ahead of the 2017 general elections.

Former journalist Jose Sanchez has initiated a Telemedia poll, where persons here in Belize and abroad can give their outlook on the issue. The question posed is “Should Cayo North East Area Representative Elvin Penner be recalled for his involvement in the Immigration, Nationality and Passport scandal?” Voters are asked to text “Yes” or “No” to (001) 347-395-0840. The inclusion of additional words other than yes or no will render your vote void. Persons residing in the US should not include the fore numbers 001. Calls are accepted, callers will be instructed to press 1 for yes of 2 for no. Persons are only allowed to vote once. We will bring you the result of that poll when the information are made available.

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