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Jan 31, 2017

P.U.P. Leader Vows Accountability in Alleged Election Fraud

The Opposition People’s United Party is planning a press conference on Thursday of this week. On the agenda is a frank discussion of the revelations coming out of the Senate Special Select Committee and in particular from former Director of Immigration, Ruth Meighan. The most damaging of those statements is her admission that of the many persons registered in the four months leading up to the 2012 general elections, a majority lacked the necessary requirements to receive Belizean nationality, and that corners were cut in the process to get these new Belizeans on the voter rolls, tipping the scales in a hotly-contested election. Thwarted in his attempts to raise the matter on adjournment in the House of Representatives on Friday, P.U.P. leader John Briceño made public comments on the matter with CTV3 in Orange Walk following a meeting of the National Party Council on Saturday. He demanded a new election to determine a “legal mandate” from the people as well as an investigation into the process in 2012. News Five’s Aaron Humes has more.


Aaron Humes, Reporting


Smarting from the shutdown of their attempt to raise debate of the revelations made last Wednesday by former Director of Immigration Ruth Meighan at the Senate Special Select Committee, the People’s United Party held its first National Party Council meeting for the New Year at the Crystal Palace Auditorium in Orange Walk Town. Meighan, in her second appearance before the Committee in Belmopan, had admitted that a large number of persons approved for nationalization by the Department in 2012 were not in compliance with the requirements in place and did not qualify to be true Belizeans.


Eamon Courtenay, P.U.P. Senator [File: January 26th, 2017]

“Those persons, whose files were not complete, did not qualify at that time to get Belizean nationality?”


Ruth Meighan

Ruth Meighan, Former Director, Immigration Department [File: January 26th, 2017]

“Those persons did not qualify, but the file that was presented, and I could clearly remember my minister coming back and telling me – because we were concerned that the process that the files, they were requesting a lot of files. And we said that we have to ensure that all the applicants meet the requirement for nationality. And that was clearly stated throughout the department, and so, any files that came to us for approval, they were presented as qualified applicant.”


At Friday’s House meeting, however, Speaker Laura Longsworth would not allow a discussion on the record. Adding to the sting is that a majority of the new “citizens” were from Guatemala. The country which is claiming at least fifty percent of Belize provided eight hundred and twenty-two new residents. They were followed by El Salvador with three hundred and sixty-six nationalizations, Honduras with three hundred and thirty and many others from A (United States of America) to almost Z (actually U for Ukraine, with one national registered). But wherever they were from, their right to be Belizean is under scrutiny, and no one was holding Briceño back following the National Party Council meeting. According to Briceño, this level of corruption was possible because the U.D.P. thought only of winning what turned out to be a close election, with no thought of repercussions for the country’s governance.


John Briceño

John Briceño, P.U.P. Leader

“We in the P.U.P. were not surprised; we have been crying out about this from 2012, calling the attention of the government that something was wrong at the Immigration Department. We saw ministers and their cronies with boxes of applications between October of 2011 and February of 2012 and the Prime Minister did not listen; now here we are with the former Director of Immigration who was the Director during that time in Immigration; who basically admitted that there has been some sort of electoral fraud.  It was obvious what Dean Barrow and the U.D.P. were doing; they wanted to win the elections at any cost. They knew that they were already losing the support of the people and the results of that election clearly demonstrated it. If they did not illegally issued two thousand nationalities in four months, they would not have won the elections; so obviously we believe that the elections was stolen, and that the mandate that they have is an illegal mandate; that is why we believe that they should step down; they should call the elections and get a new mandate. And if the people vote them in, we will respect that; but we know in our hearts by speaking to the people across the length and breadth of this country that the people want a change; the people want a new government led by the People’s United Party.”


The P.U.P. leader says he, his party and the people should and will hold the Government accountable for its actions. To start with, he said, a criminal investigation is needed.


John Briceño

“We want to make it absolutely clear; we are going to hold the government accountable. The Prime Minister needs to do the right thing, he needs to seek at what is going to look at his legacy is he going to allow for this to continue to perpetuate this kind of electoral fraud we are saying that we need to hold the people accountable the people that have orchestrated this plan so we are saying that the Prime Minister needs to call in the D.P.P. to do a thorough investigation and if there is an application that was not properly vetted or did not had all the requirements that we need to be able to cancel them and let them start the process all over again.  We have to hold the government accountable, we have to let them understand that the law was broken and if the law is broken then we need to hold the people accountable; there must be a full and thorough investigation, and let the chips fall where they may. If people are found guilty, if ministers are found guilty, they need to answer.”


Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.


The Opposition Leader also said he does not buy Prime Minister Dean Barrow’s attempt to deflect any suspicion the inquiry has raised about wrongdoing by his Ministers of Government. The National Party Council passed a resolution on the irregularities in the Immigration Department, demanding a full criminal investigation and audit of the Department dating back to 2010; that the file on former Minister of State Elvin Penner be given to the D.P.P. for criminal investigation; revocation of all nationality certificates for those who did not have the qualifications, and finally, that a full re-registration exercise be conducted.

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