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Jan 31, 2008

Was latest poll tainted by P.U.P. involvement?

Story PictureA purloined email has cast doubt on the credibility of a poll released on Monday by a pair of university researchers. Dr. Joseph Iyo of the University of Belize and Galen’s Marion Cayetano told journalists at a press conference that the poll, which showed the P.U.P. running six points ahead of the U.D.P., had been their own initiative, conducted at their own expense for purely academic reasons. The email, however, which was published in a U.D.P. ad and confirmed authentic, shows that there was communication between Iyo and high P.U.P. officials as recently as the day before the polling took place. The email, sent to Iyo by P.U.P. media and P.R. chief Yasser Musa at five Friday morning, read:

“Ralph wants to meet you today at his home on Meighan Avenue in Belize City at ten a.m. It is regarding the poll.”

While a proposed meeting between Iyo and Minister of Home Affairs Ralph Fonseca on the subject of the poll does not conclusively taint the poll’s results, it does raise the suspicion of collusion and/or financial incentives. At the Monday presentation the poll’s co-author, Marion Cayetano, responded to pointed questioning on the subject by Amandala’s Adele Ramos and News Five’s Stewart Krohn.

Marion Cayetano, Pollster
“It’s not very expensive as I mentioned the direct cost are the actual data collectors and the most expensive cost are the time that Dr. Iyo and I spent doing the work. That bill isn’t going anywhere. They are smaller than the fees we’d like to charge. Between Joe and I we shared the cost.”

Stewart Krohn
“You’re saying the cost—all the cost of the poll came out of two of your pockets?”

Marion Cayetano

Stewart Krohn
“No money came from anywhere else?”

Marion Cayetano
“We didn’t get any money.”

Stewart Krohn
“No money came from any …”

Marion Cayetano
“No money came for us to do this work. The way I got involved is Joe invited me to participate, I got excited, I participated.”

When contacted by phone today Cayetano said he knew nothing of any meeting between Iyo and Fonseca and reaffirmed the integrity of the poll. He said that while he covered all his personal costs involved with his participation in the polling project, it was Iyo who paid for all the other expenses, including honorariums for the data collectors, fuel costs and administrative bills.

When contacted by News Five today Iyo said that he had indeed received the email from Yasser Musa and did meet with Fonseca on Friday. He said the meeting concerned an earlier proposal from the P.U.P. to hire Iyo to conduct a more elaborate poll, with true random sampling, for the party’s use. Iyo told us that because he had not heard from the P.U.P. any further on the proposal he abandoned it and decided to conduct, along with Cayetano, a much simpler poll that could be completed that weekend. That, he says, was the extent of the conversation with Fonseca and on Saturday they commenced with the field work, financed without any assistance from the P.U.P. or anyone else. Iyo went on to emphasise that he stands one hundred percent behind the poll’s results and that even if he had been hired to conduct a poll—which he hadn’t—it would not have affected the results.

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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