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Jul 9, 2015

‘Papa’ Mena Victorious at the Polls, P.U.P. Loses Dangriga Seat

The results of the Dangriga bye-elections were known early on Wednesday night. In fact by seven thirty it was clear that the U.D.P.’s Frank “Papa” Mena had established a commanding lead over the P.U.P.’s Anthony Sabal. At the end of the counting of votes, the difference stood at six hundred and thirty eight votes which now widen the gap between the U.D.P. and P.U.P. since the last elections and is in fact, the largest margin of victory secured by any candidate in five decades.  Mena received two thousand one hundred and sixty four votes, close to fifty-eight percent, while Anthony Sabal received one thousand five hundred and twenty six votes, close to forty-one percent. The new standard bearer and will go on to become the newest member of Cabinet.  It was a short campaign, especially for Sabal, who had three weeks to hit the ground running and get a grip on the constituency which also includes Hope Creek and Sarawee. Mena’s victory gives the U.D.P. one more seat in the House which now stands at nineteen to twelve, but does not change the balance of power. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The emergence of Frank ‘Papa’ Mena as victor in the second bye-election to be held since January is a watershed for voters in Dangriga, a traditionally blue constituency.  The mid-term poll, called on short notice, succeeds the abrupt departure of former P.U.P. area representative Ivan Ramos on June eighth.  In the aftermath, Mena would face two opponents during a rather brief campaign.  Nonetheless, that transitory movement has given rise to another U.D.P. parliamentarian, even if short-lived.


Frank ‘Papa’ Mena, U.D.P. Area Representative, Dangriga

“It feels good.  It shows that my people believe and we will walk through this together.”


Along St. Vincent Street, shortly after seven o’clock, dozens of avid supporters of both major political organizations would converge near the Father Phillip Marin Parish Hall, braving intermittent evening showers.  Under that off and on drizzle, Prime Minister and Party Leader Dean Barrow would be met by the deafening cheer of an entourage that had already begun its unofficial revelry.  Success under the belt, what does this victory mean for Dangriga in the immediate future?


Dean Barrow

Dean Barrow, Party Leader, U.D.P.

“Before we knew there was going to be a bye-election, I had already agreed with the mayor and Papa Mena and because I had said at the time of the last budget that given what had been happening in Dangriga and that there was a change in municipal governance that we would be doing more for Dangriga and we had already agreed on a program of works worth a million dollars.  Now it hasn’t gotten started yet so there’s not going to be any need to put any more money into Dangriga additionally, since that million dollars is still to be spent.”


That budget will seemingly complement the ongoing transformation within the division.


Frank ‘Papa’ Mena

“As we are building, and you know that this constituency of Dangriga, Sarawee and Hope Creek has been going through its own rebuilding process and so we have learned so much from these gentlemen, these fine gentlemen and ladies, of course, they have brought so much to the table and we have learned.  We appreciate [that] knowledge and we will ensure that we capitalize on them and we’ll ensure that we build the product, we add value to what we have.”


Frank ‘Papa’ Mena

The outcome, from a statistical perspective, indicates that the United Democratic Party won by a margin slightly above six hundred votes, notwithstanding predictions of a landslide.


Frank ‘Papa’ Mena

“When I saw the turnout and it was coming slow I got a little bit concerned, to be honest with you.  At the end of the day we ensured that our pledge list we matched up and we did well.  We were expecting sixty [percent], we got about fifty-five.  We need to go back and look at it but I am comfortable that my team worked hard and I want to congratulate them on the hard work and the dedication that they put in.”


For P.U.P. candidate Anthony Sabal, who remains optimistic in the face of a sound defeat, the loss is being taken in stride.


Anthony Sabal

Anthony Sabal, P.U.P. Standard Bearer, Dangriga

“I’m very proud of the machinery, very proud of the campaigners, the support we got from north, south, east and west.  The People’s United Party came together, we were unified.  Yes we know the factors, three weeks was a short time, as I said, we hit the ground running and sprinting and there are always those factors that we have to consider no matter how confident we are about it the factors are there.  If you look closely, we have narrowed the margin.  If you look closely, what we achieved in three weeks, imagine if we had a little longer time.  And as usual, it’s the people that decide and the power belongs to the people.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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1 Response for “‘Papa’ Mena Victorious at the Polls, P.U.P. Loses Dangriga Seat”

  1. Al says:

    Another idiot selected to run the country. You people deserves to be enslaved by UDP government.

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