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Nov 25, 1999

A “yes” vote in Belmopan

Belmopan may look the same today, but the outlook of its residents will be changed forever. The final tally in Wednesday’s referendum for cityhood showed that the majority voted yes. However the turnout was low, a mere thirty-six percent of the registered two thousand six hundred seventy-six voters, just under a thousand people, caring enough to cast their ballot. There were six hundred fifty-seven “yes” votes and two hundred ninety-six “no’s”. The yes votes constitute sixty-nine percent of the total while the no’s were thirty-one percent. And while most believed the residents of Belmopan proper would come out in full swing, it was the community of Maya Mopan which had the highest percentage of voters. Thirty-nine percent of those eligible to vote in Belmopan cast their ballot, fifty-seven percent of the eligible voters in Maya Mopan went to the polls, twenty-four percent of the electors in Salvapan, thirty-three percent in San Martin and twenty-four percent in Las Flores. Only about nine percent of those eligible in the areas in between voted in the referendum. The turnout in these areas may be an indication that these residents want development and to be incorporated into Belmopan city. The overall turnout may seem low, but Chief Elections Officer Myrtle Palacio says this is probably due to the fact that the vote was issue, rather than candidate oriented. Participation from the political parties was low key, but observers from the People’s United Party, United Democratic Party and even NABR were at the polling station at the Belmopan Comprehensive School. The next move for the Belmopan Citizen’s Committee is to get the “city”zens to participate in the preparation of the City Council Act to present it to the House of Representatives. The booted out Reconstruction and Development Corporation will stay at the helm until the city council is elected in March. While the P.U.P. will no doubt put up their roster of candidates, the U.D.P. says they are going to wait and see. Party Leader Dean Barrow told News Five there are still too many unknown factors at this point and a lot will depend on how the City Council Bill shapes up and the tax base that will be available. Barrow says unlike the other towns, Belmopan will be responsible for the development of surrounding areas, a task the U.D.P. says they do not want to take on without adequate resources. If the turnout from the outlying areas is any indication, whoever does run for city council will have to face a lot of people with a lot of expectations.

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