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Jan 31, 2008

Two familiar faces compete in nation’s largest constituency

Story PictureIn our last newscast we took a look at Belize City’s Pickstock division, a constituency so small that on a windy day you could probably kick a football from one end to the other. Today Ann-Marie Williams reports from the other end of the geographic spectrum in Stann Creek West.

Rodwell Ferguson, P.U.P. Incumbent, Stann Creek West
“Some of the concerns that are basic are electrification expansion, water and basically housing. But I have been in close touch with my constituents over the last five years so as I go along I tell them development is a process. Eventually everything will come to pass as my constituents see that I’ve done my best over the last five years so I believe they would want to give me a chance to continue the good work.”

Ann-Marie Williams, Reporting
And in order to continue the good work the P.U.P. incumbent Rodwell Ferguson wants to be elected for a second term.

Rodwell Ferguson
“My vehicle to win the election is the creation of the Hands Belize Foundation. When I did that I did it because I want to help people and was elected to serve. And so I created the foundation and I paid the tuition fee for every child from infant one to fourth form which is very fantastic and the people appreciate that.”

Ann-Marie Williams
“How come you can’t pay tuition for every child up to fourth form when Government of Belize pays for each child.”

Rodwell Ferguson
“Government does not pay the registration fee”

Ann-Marie Williams
“But you said tuition that’s why I said …”

Rodwell Ferguson
“It’s basically similar”

This is what electioneering looks like in the Stann Creek West constituency. Twenty-four far flung villages with over six thousand voters; the largest electoral division in the country.

The U.D.P.’s candidate is Melvin Hulse, a political veteran who has enjoyed two terms in the area; from 1984 to 1993. After eight years out of office he credits his come back to finishing the job he and his party started in 1984.

Melvin Hulse, U.D.P. Representative, Stann Creek West
“Time stood still in the Stann Creek West and no work has been done in ten years in no village. The streets have not been continued, the lights have not been continued, expansion has not been done, farm loads have not been, the villages have not been maintained. There’s been no development in Stann Creek West unfortunately because each successive government regardless of the political party has a responsibility to take development to another stage especially in the South. Stann Creek West and Toledo West are the two most impoverished districts for the want of a better word, underdeveloped.”

Ann-Marie Williams
“You look around and say that the P.U.P. is for the grassroots people but how do you best explain when you relalise that we living in a country with so much resources and so much poverty, yet P.U.P. is for the grassroots and they are the party that has been ruling the country for almost half a century before another party got into power?”

Rodwell Ferguson
“Yeah, but despite that I believe we have come a long way as a very young country. We are only twenty-five, twenty-six years old so I believe over the last twenty-five years the P.U.P. has emphasized and made sure this country goes to the next level. It may take—maybe it will take a century or a lifetime but I can see a difference. I can recall when I was only twenty-five years old this road in front of me was not paved but today we have a paved highway and so many other accomplishments over the last fifteen, twenty years.”

Melvin Hulse
“There’s no phones working in the village in Seine Bight, Placencia, Mango Creek, that’s it. There’s no internet so the kids can’t do well at school. There’s nothing out there to help them to step into the twenty-first century and that is way out. There’s no ambulances in the villages, there’s no fire station, not even in Mango Creek have a fire station. We cannot—I cannot allow my children to grow up in that type of environment. I did it as a youngster but back then we didn’t have it.”

But what Ferguson has to ensure his victory is a well-organised party that he believes in.

Rodwell Ferguson
“I look at the P.U.P. as a party for love and the P.U.P. cares about the Belizean people. While you might criticize them, I compare both political parties and I see where the P.U.P. is for the grassroots people and so the P.U.P. will take this country to the next level. That’s why I am happy to be a part of the P.U.P.”

Melvin Hulse
“I’m running on the U.D.P. ticket because, fundamentally, regardless of this stupidness bout myth that both parties are the same, that is not true. The U.D.P. as a government is an excellent government. They talk about the P.U.P. is a party for the poor. If you watch the beginning the introduction of light and water in the villages, it when the U.D.P. started in 1984 and when the P.U.P. came in 89 they had no choice but to continue but they had thirty-six years before that to mi start, they didn’t.”

With a week to go before the big day Ferguson is optimistic that he’s done his political homework, registering hundreds of first time voters.

Rodwell Ferguson
“That was the key issue just before the closing date on January tenth. I believe we registered over six hundred people in our constituency and did over maybe over two hundred transfers.”

For now we can’t say if the youth in the booth will give him the edge we just have to wait and see. Ann-Marie Williams for News Five.

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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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