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Sep 14, 2016

In Cattle Landing, elected independent village council slate find themselves out of office

Village council elections are just about concluded in the Toledo District where a number of independent slates contested the leadership of their respective communities.  In Cattle Landing, a satellite community just outside of Punta Gorda Town, a team of independent candidates led by Carlos Bardalez was victorious at the polls. But despite coming out on top, Bardalez and his councilors were never sworn-in as officers.  Instead they received a letter from the Elections and Boundaries Department several days later informing them that the process had been declared invalid.  No reason has been offered as to why the outcome was nullified.  Wil Maheia, a resident of Cattle Landing, explains what happened following the elections.


Wil Maheia, Resident, Cattle Landing Village

Wil Maheia

“There was an independent slate that contested the election and a lot of independent slates contested the elections in Toledo.  This particular one in Cattle Landing Village the independent slate won and it was surprising to them how come they were not sworn in.  So they kept asking why aren’t they sworn in and they were swearing in all the other village chairmen that were elected.  Finally, they got a letter, I believe it was from Elections and Boundaries or [the Ministry of] Rural Development who said that the elections were null and void and they didn’t give any explanation.  They just said that the elections were null and void.  We’ve tried to contact both Elections and Boundaries and the Rural Development Officer and at no time can they provide and answer.  But I just think it is a sad day when, it’s one of the smallest villages in the country, got elected independently and I think that government is trying to, you know, disregard them.  Instead of government trying to encourage the independents to run outside of [party] politics, you know, I’m a member of the BPP and we didn’t get involved in that because we didn’t want village councils to be non-political.  These villages are small and politics really divide it so we encourage independents to challenge the slates and they did and a number of them won, in this particular case this was the village that had actually, for a small village that has less than two hundred voters or there about, the UDP actually had a convention for who could contest in this village council election.  I mean, I just think that it is shameful that after the independents beat the UDP slate in this election that the Elections and Boundaries Commission will find it in there interest to disqualify the winners of the elections.  I think that they need to explain to the Belizean people, I mean it’s disrespectful to the candidates themselves or sending a letter to them and telling them that the election is null and void and they did not even provide an explanation.”


News Five attempted to contact Chief Elections Officer Josephine Tamai earlier today; however, we were informed that she was unavailable for comment.

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