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Nov 29, 2013

PUP turns in signature to trigger recall

On October fifth the People’s United Party launched a campaign to collect signatures on a petition to recall Elvin Penner. The move came just weeks after news broke of the U.D.P. Cayo Northeast Representative’s involvement in a passport scandal in which a South Korean criminal got a passport while imprisoned in Taiwan. The P.U.P. move was bold and, in fact, a first of its kind since the recall mechanism was written into law by, ironically, the United Democratic Party. Today, seven weeks after the drive to collect signatures commenced, the P.U.P. delivered those signed petitions to the office of the Governor-General Sir Colville Young. Mike Rudon was in Belmopan and has the story.


Mike Rudon, Reporting

Packed in a small, nondescript box, the signatures obtained by the PUP during their petition drive might seem inconsequential. But these signatures in binders hold the power to initiate a process which could remove a duly elected representative from office. The representative in the cross-hairs is Elvin Penner, and the move to oust him is well underway.


Landy Habet, PUP Political Officer, Cayo Northeast

Landy Habet

“Today we called it

a while ago.”


Anthony Sylvestre

Anthony Sylvestre, Legal Counsel, PUP

“The petitions haven’t been submitted to the Governor General. Governor General as you overheard a while ago indicated that the petitions will be forthwith sent to the Chief Elections Officer and in particular that will be today. The law provides that within 30 days of receipt of the petition, the Chief Elections Officer must verify and thereafter certify whether the petitions signatures, they actually correspond with what they have in their database. That has to be done within 390 days. Upon the receipt of the certification from the Chief Election Officer the Governor General will then thereafter within 15 days issue a writhe of referendum to commence the recall of Elvin Penner.”


The threshold on a recall referendum, and the PUP is confident it will get that far, is sixty-five percent of voters – which works out to a little less than four thousand registered voters.


Anthony Sylvestre

“There is a sixty-five percent threshold that need to be achieved which mean that sixty-five percent of that voters will have to actually vote in that referendum and depending of the outcome of that referendum there will be a by-election. If it is in the favor of the People’s United Party and the people of Cayo Northeast vote that they wish to recall Elvin Penner, sixty-five percent of the voters having come out to vote and a simple majority vote that they in fact wish to recall him then there will be a by-election in that by-election Elvin Penner will not be able to contest the seat.”


Julius Espat, Deputy Leader, PUP

Julius Espat

“We did the first step which was to gather the signatures. We have also done the second step which was to vet the signatures and prepare it in a format to presenting here and now we are in the third step which I formally presenting it to the Governor General. We will now wait for government to do its part for elections and boundaries to go through its list.  Once the date is called we are ready to go.”


But while the PUP is ready to go…the real question is if they can pay their way. Mobilizing voters for a referendum process would require general-election type mobilization, with means big money. Deputy leader Julius Espat says this is a test of a system which they believe is fundamentally flawed


Julius Espat

“If the P.U.P. is not ready tot do that then we should pack up our bags and go home, we are here as one of the parties that has been in power before and we are now in opposition. We take our role seriously as the opposition. So yes we are ready, we are ready at any time and we will deal with whatever issue that comes us to make sure we do whatever it takes to test the system. Remember we are testing a system that we believe is flawed in the way it was proposed but he only way to prove that is to go on the ground so the people can see. Sixty-five percent is not an easy task, general elections for example in Cayo South you had a little bit over seventy percent of the population coming out to vote..So I believe that the government in place put this law out for it to fail and we are testing it.”


There were reports of threats and intimidation when the petition was launched. That will be amplified in the event of a referendum. But PUP Cayo Northeast aspirant Landy Habet is confident that they’ll get it done.


Landy Habet

“At the referendum which will be held similarly to how an election is held, people will be able to go out there and express their sentiments, their views and  their feelings about all that is transpired and I am confident that we will be able to get that sixty-five percent. We have to also realize that the scandal involving Mr. Penner is not the only thing facing this government right now. We have the issues of all the other anomalies that have occurred and recently in the news we have heard other thing that are occurring, and every day, every two days there is something new coming up. People are really annoyed at what is happening. They are really desperate and they want to see a change in governance and that change ion governance can only come with a P.U.P. government. Because this government will not change the way they are running things right now. So I am really confident that people will come out.”


If all goes according to the PUP plan, there could be a new Cayo Northeast representative in place by mid-2014. Mike Rudon, reporting for News Five.


There will be a P.U.P. convention in Belize Rural North this weekend, after which the P.U.P. says it will set its sights on recalling Edmond Castro, who has also been disgraced in an ongoing immigration scandal. 

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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