PUP says it will not let up pressure on immigration scandal

vlcsnap-2013-10-16-08h41m59s54Following Tuesday morning’s press conference in Belmopan, the People’s United Party went ahead with their own previously scheduled press briefing at party headquarters, Independence Hall, Tuesday afternoon. Party leader Francis Fonseca opened by insisting that if Prime Minister Dean Barrow believed that by now distancing themselves from Elvin Penner and the extent of his involvement in alleged fraudulent activity at the Immigration Department the matter would be settled, that was not so. The Prime Minister, Fonseca said, remained principally responsible as he admitted to giving powers to Elvin Penner which he, Prime Minister Barrow, was not, to the best of the legal knowledge available, legally appropriate to give and to which Mr Penner had no right. Francis Fonseca added that it was the UDP’s stinging rejection by voters of Cayo Northeast this past weekend, and not their own conscience, which promoted the Prime Minister to “wheel and come again.” Mr Fonseca renewed calls for Mr Penner to come forward and give details about the extent of passports sold under his tenure and for the Government to report to the nation on the criminal investigation now underway. He also called for a separate commission of inquiry to investigate the so-called “visa quota” scandal in which Ministers are alleged to have received quotas for selling visas and paid as much as ten thousand dollars, not all of which was given to Government. He also endorsed Senator Lisa Shoman’s call for a special Select Senate Committee to investigate the matter, a call that Senator Shoman reported has been well-supported by the social partner senators. According to Cayo Northeast standard bearer Orlando Habet, the fruit of their labour to recall Penner, despite overt opposition from the UDP and alleged threats and victimization, is over 1,500 signatures, almost ninety percent of the required 1,800 signatures for recall. The PUP, he said, continues to seek support and verify signatures to ensure legitimacy. Answering questions party leader Fonseca insisted that the PUP had the “moral authority” to make the demands it does because it is serious about making changes to a system that was broken under both the major parties. He added that while the people are prepared to see recalls initiated elsewhere and even direct action if necessary, the PUP would move cautiosly on both fronts. The party, said Francis Fonseca, has received the support of Vision Inspired by the People (VIP) in the area and the VIP have agreed, he said, to support Orlando Habet rather than run a candidate of their own.  After the main PUP briefing, attorney Arthur Saldivar displayed the bulk of the documents he says he rescued from the Immigration Department where they were about to be burned. He was originally scheduled to speak at Tuesday’s press conference, but because of another commitment he backed out, but was still seated at the head table. Immediately following speaking to the press Arthur Saldivar visited the Queen Street Police Station where we understand he met with police and handed over the documents. We will have that and a full coverage of Tuesday’s press conference for you on Wednesday.

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