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Jan 4, 2017

6 to Vie for Thirteenth Senate Position

Nominations have been closed for the selection of a thirteenth member of the Senate. The United Democratic Party first proposed it in 2008 as a counter to a fully elected Senate, but Prime Minister Dean Barrow refused for several years to sign the prevailing sections of the Constitutional amendment into law, fearing worsened gridlock in the upper chamber. Finally, after lobbying from the Chamber of Commerce and last year’s industrial action by the Belize National Teacher’s Union, the Government gave in and began to move the process forward. There are six listed nominees after a seventh, SATIIM’s Froyla Tzalam, declined her nomination. They are: Janelle Chanona of OCEANA Belize; Osmany Salas of the Belize Tourism Industry Association; Juan Pablo Collado of Adopt A Child with Disabilities Program; Edilberto Romero of BACONGO; Valdemar Andrade of Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association; and Donovan Reneau, the legally blind radio announcer aligned with the Belize Council for the Visually Impaired. Twenty-nine N.G.O.s were registered by the December nineteenth deadline from the Attorney General’s office and because one was wound up, twenty-eight organizations will actually have a vote on January tenth. But how will the campaign between the nominees be conducted? Chanona, the former chair of the Steering Committee, says she and her fellow candidates will now be focusing on making their final pitches to the electors.

 

Janelle Chanona

Janelle Chanona, Nominee for 13th Senator

“Mister Salas and I were both on the Thirteenth Senator Steering Committee, but once our nominations were submitted, he and I both resigned from that, just to make sure that there was no perception of conflict of interest there. But the process continues; I believe midnight last night was the close-off for nominations, and the official list of all the nominees will be published today. The N.G.O. community again, early on, we had laid out that once the nominees were vetted that we would be making individual presentations – all the nominees would be making individual presentations to the N.G.O. community, to take questions, share insights, take positions on key issues. Because yes, while we will be representing the N.G.O. community of course, this will be a Senator that will have to look at national issues on a whole, so I think it is important to have that conversation with the rest of the N.G.O. community. I have to say that I am privileged to be associated with the group of nominees thus far that has been published; I think everybody brings tremendous strengths and talents to the table. So again, whomever is elected the thirteenth Senator, the N.G.O. community will be well-represented and we look forward to having a seat at the table in the Upper House.”

 

On Thursday, News Five will speak with Osmany Salas. The Steering Committee will vet the candidates according to the criteria established by the N.G.O.s in good standing on November ninth, 2016. According to the press release issued by the Committee, there will be a meeting of N.G.O.s on January sixth where the candidates will be introduced to the NGO community and where the voting process will be finalized. After the January tenth election, the name of the Thirteenth Senator nominee will be submitted to the Governor General on or before January seventeenth, 2016.

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