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Jan 5, 2015

Live Coverage: 2015 Cayo North Bye-election

The polls have just closed in the Cayo North by-election where Omar Figueroa of the U.D.P. and Richard Harrison of the P.U.P. contested the elections. The voter’s turnout at five o’clock stood at fifty-three point four percent, the six o’clock report will not be delivered until later this evening when the Returning Officer, Marcelo Winsor, moves over to the ITVET where counting will take place. The constituency has six thousand five hundred and ninety-eight registered voters so the turnout has not been as robust as was expected. Even though the results of the by-election will not shift the balance of power, cabinet ministers were out in full force. The presence of the People’s United Party was less visible, but they report their machinery was working all day. There were a number of skirmishes this morning and police re-enforcements had to be called in to calm the campaigners. Now there were two polling stations; one at Sacred Heart in San Ignacio and the other at Bullet Tree. Mike Rudon has been on the ground since Sunday night and we go to him live for a wrap up of what has occurred, today January fifth, in the Cayo North by-election.

 

Mike Rudon

“Good night to you Marleni, good night to viewers. We are here at the polling station. The second set of boxes are being taken to the ITVET; the first set has already gone with police escort. The rain is pouring as you can see. Most of the crowd has already dispersed, heading over to the ITVET for the counting.  It’s been a long day so as soon as we finish this report; we will be heading over to the ITVET as well.”

 

Marleni Cuellar

“Looking at the event that has taken place today, let’s do a quick run through as how things started in the morning at seven o’clock when the polls were opened to right throughout till it just closed a moment ago.”

 

Mike Rudon

Mike Rudon

“Well Marleni we could probably start from when the polls opened. We did a drive through around Cayo this morning; we passed by the P.U.P. and the U.D.P. offices. There was a lot of activity at the U.D.P. office: people getting ready, taxis getting ready to pick up voters, a lot of energy. When we went to the P.U.P.’s office, there was nobody there, not even one person. I am not sure if that is significant in the scheme of things, but that basically carried through into the early hours of this morning. When the polls opened at a little after seven o’clock, it was all a sea of red; the U.D.P. controlled the entire area including in front of the polling area. The P.U.P. was a much further crowd a little further down from the polling area. That continued throughout the day actually and the U.D.P. in essence formed a wall behind where I am standing where voters would have to walk through to get to the entrance of the polling area. As you mentioned earlier, there were a lot of skirmishes—none out of the ordinary—I mean just things that we’ve seen before in a lot of elections. The two crowds ended up passionate. Later on in the morning, the P.U.P. got in their people from across the country; we saw people from as far as Toledo, as far as Cayo and they were all trying to help. So both sides were energetic, both sides had a lot of passion. I think the most contention was when certain persons insisted on going into the line and campaigning even when police kept telling them to stay out. how it happen is that the U.D.P. would start it—Alberto August in particular and the mayor, John August, kept going in—so the P.U.P. saw that and then they sent in people and that continued throughout the day. It kept police busy; they had to keep bringing out the people who went in illegally. In the end I can tell you also that the police had to assign one officer specifically to mayor August to keep him to his side of the area. But apart from those skirmishes, there was nothing violent and the peace was kept. At the end of the day, right before six o’clock, the GSU was brought in. Mark Flowers was here and he managed to place everybody behind the ropes and that is how it ended.”

 

Marleni Cuellar

“Mike you are mentioning what were two of the prominent issues taking place there, very closely linked to each other. The first was the issue of the hundred yard boundary that is typically in place, where politicians and their respective camps are not allowed to come within that area to campaign. Why was it so difficult for the police department to maintain these boundaries?”

 

Mike Rudon

“I think it was because of the setting of the polling area. It is in a residential area and one hundred yards on all sides, it wouldn’t have worked because the streets are very narrow and it just wouldn’t have worked. So early on, Superintendent Dinsdale Thompson tried to talk to both parties to tell them listen, I won’t hold you to the hundred yards, but can we please get along at twenty yards. That never worked.”

 

Marleni Cuellar

“So it was the good faith arrangement that didn’t work out?”

 

Mike Rudon

“Yes.”

 

Marleni Cuellar

Marleni Cuellar

“Secondly, you mentioned the issues that we saw with both Alberto August and the Mayor of that area, John August. We were informed during the reports that were happening throughout the day that Alberto August, the U.D.P. chairman, was actually band from the area. What led to that specific action?”

 

Mike Rudon

“Well the exact thing that we were saying; he kept going in. He insisted that he was a runner and he kept going in and campaigning in the lines. And the police asked him over and over and over. I am telling you at least every ten, fifteen minutes they would be walking in. it was a continuous thing and in the end, he was asked you know what, just keep your distance, do not come in here again. When we checked over at Bullet Tree, we were told by police there that they had the same instructions that he was not to come in.”

 

Marleni Cuellar

“So let’s move over to voter turnout. I know you are getting drenched there…thank you for bearing with us. We are just trying to wrap up today’s event before we move into the rest of the newscast. The voter turnout at five o’clock was a little bit over fifty percent. I know we don’t have the official six o’clock count. You have been speaking with some of the people on the ground there—many in fact, all of them were not willing to go on camera. But what was some of the reasons that prompted people to come out and vote?”

 

Mike Rudon

“Well what we didn’t want to do was force people to feel that they had to tell us who they voted for. So we had to ask the questions very carefully. Several of them answered corruption. Now you know that is a double-edged sword that people have used to criticize the P.U.P. and the U.D.P. so in that case we really couldn’t tell who they voted for. Several of the person mentioned infrastructure, but most of it was corruption. That was the main issue.”

 

Marleni Cuellar

“So that isn’t a very good indicator, but it shows that they want to take action against what is taking place at this place. Now just lastly Mike, I know you have to head over to ITVET for the counting of the votes, but is there an estimated time as to when we can expect to get that announcement?”

 

Mike Rudon

“I would expect that that answer would not be very quickly. They are taking the second set of boxes and then the counting will start at eight. I would say that by maybe ten o’clock, ten-thirty, we should have some indicator as to who is the winner. But don’t take my word for it; that is just what I believe from talking to people.”

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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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