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Oct 29, 2003

Voters cast ballots in Cayo South

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The result is not going to change the balance of power in Belmopan, but an opposition victory in today’s Cayo South by-election will halt the P.U.P.’s unprecedented electoral roll and inject the U.D.P. with a dose of momentum that it badly needs to regain national credibility in the wake of its massive March fifth defeat. Today News 5′s Patrick Jones toured the nation’s largest division as its over eight thousand voters finally got the chance to be kings and queens for a day.

Patrick Jones, Reporting

It was a dog-eat-dog fight from the time the polls opened as the two candidates made one final pitch for votes. Neither the P.U.P. nor the U.D.P. left anything to chance, employing all available resources to get every last supporter out. And just hours after voting started, both Joaquin Cawich and John Saldivar saw reason for optimism.

Joaquin Cawich, P.U.P. Candidate

“I feel positive. I feel very positive. I think the hard work has paid off. I think we’ve entered the homes of the people, we’ve touched their hearts and I believe today we will see the results of our labours, the fruits of our labour that we did. We are confident that we will be getting the support of the people because we are giving them that support.”

John Saldivar, U.D.P. Candidate

“Its going very good; I am very happy. I’m very confident that our machinery is working, is well oiled and we are bringing out our people and in a short time we should be able to say that we are on the way to victory.”

But while the U.D.P. candidate was brimming with confidence, leader of the People’s United Party, Prime Minster Said Musa, was on the ground in Roaring Creek with guarded optimism.

Prime Minister Said Musa, P.U.P. Leader

“It’s all to do with organization and machinery, and I think our people are well organised to bring out the vote. Its no use saying we have the support unless they come and put that “X”, and that’s the key issue now, getting out the vote, getting them out as early as possible, don’t leave it for the last minute. And I think it’s going fairly well.”

While the two party’s electoral machines were out in full force in each of the villages, Belmopan Comprehensive School was ground zero, with both the P.U.P. and the U.D.P. conceding that the ballots coming from this station are what will decide the winner of the election.

John Saldivar

“This is where the election is going to be. Most of the other villages in Cayo South are U.D.P. villages, if I may say so. So we need to make sure we win Belmopan this time, and that’s why we are putting a lot of pressure here. And of course the P.U.P. is aware that we are putting pressure on them here in Belmopan.”

Prime Minister Said Musa

“Belmopan and the outer limits of Belmopan constitute like half the vote. So obviously we have to concentrate a lot on that area. That’s not to say that we’re going to ignore the villages where the P.U.P. has always been strong, in Valley of Peace and Armenia and St. Margaret village and so on. And also along the highway here, Unitedville has always been strong for the P.U.P., but Belmopan is where the battle will be joined.”

And the generals on both sides of the battle let nothing slip, holding each other’s activities in and around the polling station area to strict scrutiny. With the campaigning over and the wait now on for the verdict, both Cawich and Saldivar say they’ve given all they could.

John Saldivar

“Leading up to today we were basically back in the homes of our voters everyday. We had a lot of people, we had a big team of canvassers going in the homes everyday. We knew that the P.U.P. were putting a lot of pressure financially on our people, so we felt that only the personal contact would be able to overcome the money that is flowing around, and I think it has. The personal contact has worked; the strategy has worked.”

Joaquin Cawich

“My main strategy or my main thing was entering the hearts of the people, and that was done through entering the homes of the people, going house to house visiting, sitting down, listening to their needs, listening to their problems, listening to their aspirations in this constituency and in their lives. And therefore with that in mind, I have worked out a plan which I will be submitting for consultation with the community with each individual village in the community, so that we can do the work for them, we can do a good job for them.”

But whoever gets the nod in this, the largest constituency in the country, will have the representation of over eight thousand electors on their shoulders. And with Saldivar coming to within twenty-four votes in the March fifth general elections, the U.D.P. leader says any kind of margins on the plus side this time around will be especially sweet.

Patrick Jones

“What’s your call this time around?”

Dean Barrow

“I think, Patrick, that we are going to win and I think that we are going to win handily. That is comparatively speaking. If you win by a hundred votes here in Cayo South, given that we’ve never ever won this division, I would consider that a massive victory, and I see a cushion the way things are going of about a hundred or so.”

Joaquin Cawich

“I look positive at all the communities. I believe that all the communities will swing in my favour. I do not seclude any one community. I believe all of them want, and are looking and have a sincere interest to see development in their community, to look at development in their community, and therefore they will fight for that development and they know that together with the P.U.P. and Joaquin Cawich development will come to each individual community that they have.”

With the polling stations already closed, the emphasis now moves to the Belmopan Civic Centre where the ballots will be counted. And barring any unforeseen circumstance, this time tomorrow we’ll be introducing you to the new Cayo South Area Representative. Patrick Jones, for News 5.

The results of the election should be known by late tonight.

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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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