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Mar 1, 2019

A Peaceful Protest by Belize Peace Movement

A small protest was held today in front of The Inspiration Centre where the Elections & Boundaries Department was meeting with monitors for the upcoming Referendum on April tenth. Leading the group was Patrick Rogers of the Belize Peace Movement which includes a number of small political parties. The movement was not invited to appoint monitors because according to the department, the field would be too crowded and chaotic. News Five’s Hipolito Novelo reports.

 

Hipolito Novelo Reporting

A handful of members of the Belize Peace Movement were in front of the Inspiration Center this morning, picketing a meeting facilitated by the Elections and Boundaries Department.

 

Josephine Tamai, Chief Elections Officer

Josephine Tamai

“Well the purpose of this meeting was to engage the stakeholders, we sent out a press release inviting persons who are members of the National Assembly to serve as elections or referendum monitors for the referendum on April tenth, 2019.”

 

The Belize Peace Movement- an umbrella organization for third parties and activist groups was not invited and the Movement is not happy about that. In fact, member Patrick Roger says that the Peace Movement will provide balance to the monitoring of the process.

 

Patrick Rogers

Patrick Rogers, Member, Belize Peace Movement

“We have seen where the purview as I was told by the Chair of the Elections and Boundaries Commission that it lies solely with the Chief Elections Officer to determine who will monitor this process. We cannot accept having our spot monitoring this process when we will bring some balance in the room. At this point today we are skeptical that it can be free and fair when you don’t have anyone on the No side in that room when the polling is taking place.”

 

But the Chief Elections Officer, Josephine Tamai says otherwise. According to Tamai, these organizations were invited to monitor the referendum process to ensure transparency and accountability.

 

Josephine Tamai

“We want to ensure that we are held accountable for the actions that we do when it comes to preparations leading up to Referendum Day. Referendum day we know that public officers are the persons who actually conduct the referendum. So again we want to ensure that we have a smooth process and for persons to see what exactly what is happening in those polling and counting stations.”

 

Hipolito Novelo

“Was it your decision as the Chief Elections Officer to not invite them in this process or were you following some sort of law?”

 

Josephine Tamai

“Well, the law gives the Chief Elections Officer the power to appoint these persons and like I said we have to have some control. You allow one, you have others coming up. Where do we draw the law? Where do we place those persons?”

 

Robert Lopez

Robert Lopez, Chairman, Belize Peace Movement

“We went there. We tried to get in and they said that it is private property and we have to leave. We do not intend to stay quiet now. We intend to get in the streets because Belizeans need to know that everything is being done to make sure they have a yes on April tenth. April tenth is not an election. It is a people’s referendum.”

 

And with that, the Belize Peace Movement is demanding official status to monitor the ICJ Referendum process.

 

Hipolito Bautista, Member, Belize Peace Movement

Hipolito Bautista

“My beef is that we are being railroaded like cattle, like sheep, cow into a pen. We are not goat nor pig, no animal. We are thinking Belizeans and we want to be heard and we want to participate in this referendum.”

 

Patrick Rogers

“We have to kick down any door that we get in a room. We deserve a spot at the polling on that day to tell you Belizeans that it was free and fair. If we are not there then we are left to believe that they want to thief the bloody elections.”

 

Josephine Tamai

“We know that we have to have some control when it comes to a process. It is not that we can open to each and every single organization, individual. Nothing prohibits these persons from going with one of the other organizations if the organizations want to have them as part of their group than that is fine.”

 

Hipolito Novelo, News Five.

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