The passports found in the knapsack abandoned in a store in Cayo are still being investigated according to authorities. Police issued a brief statement on the matter today saying that the 8 passports have since been handed over to Major Crimes Unit in Belmopan for investigation assisted by OC San Ignacio and that several persons have since been interviewed as investigations continue. We ar not sure if one of those interviewed is the Belizean owner of one of the passports found, a UDP operative of the United Democratic Party and Cayo Northeast candidate John Francis August, Jr. At yesterday’s PUP manifesto launch , August’s PUP opponent, Orlando Habet, who alleged but could not prove that he was the victim of electoral fraud last time against incumbent Elvin Penner, said that he is worried that it might be happening again. Here is what he told us.
Orlando Habet, PUP Candidate- Cayo Northwest: Well more suspicious not the establishment but the individual because is one of the operatives for my opponent Mr. John August. In August of this year, or July, he transferred from Cayo North to Cayo North East legally because he lives in Cayo North, and so did Mr. John August for that matter and he is a well known UDP. He was a candidate for PUP’s Town Council. He failed miserably in getting elected, so we know that he has been out doing this mischief I believe. But our concern is not only that 1 bag because we are scared that there are other bags such as those with hundreds of other passports. What can happen with those passports? Possibly these people already have nationality and we don’t know because there are hundreds of people that we cannot identify on our voters list, not only in San Ignacio Town Polling Area 72 but also in the other villages.
Habet insisted that despite any dirty tricks, he would win the division on his third try.
Orlando Habet, PUP Candidate- Cayo Northwest: I fear that is wide spread. I fear that it is not only in Cayo Northeast. I know the attempt is for them to try to gain some momentum to try and gain some votes in Cayo Northeast, but our people are prepared. This time it will not even be close, this will be a huge margin of victory for Orlando Habet and the People’s United Party.
According to Habet, Penner is campaigning with August despite being ostracized by the UDP and prevented from standing in the division again. Criminal charges against Penner related to the Won Hong Kim scandal died in the Supreme Court earlier this year and so did the recall petition started against him shortly after the Kim affair came to light. PUP leader Francis Fonseca also weighed in.
Francis Fonseca, Leader of PUP: We are very very concerned about it. It’s absolutely alarming. It validates a lot of the reports that we have gotten over the past few weeks about UDP operatives who are engaged in trying to bring in foreign nationals to try and participate in this election. We understand that the police are in possession of the documents. We hope and demand that there will be a thorough and full investigation of this matter, and of not just because it is election season, that certain people would turn a blind eye to what is taking place. We are very very concerned. We are concerned that the binders at the election and boundaries commission may be interfered with, that is a concern. We are getting reports of them taking photos of foreign nationals with these passports, giving them nationality documents, and taking their pictures and replacing pictures in the binders with their pictures. There are a lot of concerns that we have.
Fonseca said the party would keep a close eye on activities with the Elections and Boundaries Department to ensure no illegal activity with voters.