Which party is winning the Village Council elections?
The gloves are off in rural communities where residents are electing new Village Councils to serve them for the next three years. Over the weekend, thirty-nine villages held elections that were contested by the two major political parties or independent slates. Our news team travelled to the Orange Walk District to pick the sights and sounds as villagers turned out to vote and the political parties mobilized to get the voters to the polls. News Five’s Marion Ali reports.
Marion Ali Reporting
We made two stops in Carmelita Village, located just before Tower Hill. Our first visit was around eleven in the morning. Voting was going quite slowly and the only captivating twist was my encounter with this twelve foot long slithery friend named Jake who turned out with his owner. Our next stop was Santa Martha Village, eighteen miles off the new Northern Highway. We observed a long line of voters and a stir when this U.D.P. supporter was not allowed to vote on her first two tries. We got all sides to the story.
Andrea Sabido, Not Allowed to Vote (Via Translator)
“They didn’t let me vote because I don’t have any ID card nor do I have any social security card. Her name is on the list.”
“So they denied her to vote simply because she did not bring her ID card?”
“Yes they denied me to vote simply because I didn’t bring any ID card nor social security card.”
Marcel Cardona, U.D.P. Area Representative, Orange Walk East
“My understanding is that once you’re a Belizean citizen…”
“I understand that part, but anybody can walk in and say I’m Marion Ali.”
“Right, but if there are witnesses who know you are Marion Ali even if you forget your ID, noh have wah ID and so on and Marion Ali walk een deh fi vote, they should allow you to vote on the basis…”
“So they know her as Andrea Sabido?”
“I don’t think it’s matter of she is not known, I think it’s a matter of the PUP is objecting to her voting.”
Valentin Ramirez, PUP Candidate, Santa Martha Village
“They are saying that we are stopping them from voting, that they know that they are Belizeans and they are villagers and they’re supposed to vote. But then that is not our fault that that person can’t vote.”
“But are you the ones objecting to it and on what grounds?”
“We are not stopping nobody from voting.”
“But they turned a young lady twice just now and five more before her.”
“Okay, that is because she don’t have the ID’s that she need to vote.”
“Unlike the busy polls and the very long lines in Santa Martha, things here in Carmelita were not the same. The polls just closed a few minutes ago and as you can see behind me, there’s no one or almost no one in line to vote. But earlier organisers told us that things started out a little bit hectic.”
Randy Jones, U.D.P. Candidate, Chairman
“Well with this heat, I guess it’s close to a hundred degrees right now, a lotta people waiting until it cools off, having something to eat and then they’ll be coming out later on.”
“Okay, but has there been any kind of incident? Any police needed to be called out?”
“One slight incident, one of the scrutinizers from the opposition got into a little tussle with one of our supoprters.”
“So it was physical?”
“Apparently, yeah, he pushed the guy in his face and the guy is pressing charges.”
But the PUP Orange Walk East activist, Dr. Marcotulio Mendez says there was a stir, but denies that there was any physical confrontation.
Dr. Marcotulio Mendez, PUP O.W. East Activist
“Misunderstandings happen but really nobody attacked nobody, it’s just a little bit of verbal thing that happened and everything just went fine.”
“So no shoving in the face? Nothing physical?”
Dr. Marcotulio Mendez
“Nothing like how it happened at Palmar noh.”
“The line looks very short though, as if though people are just trickling in now.”
Dr. Marcotulio Mendez
“Well it’s been coming in on a regular basis from morning, so that’s why no big line has been observed noh.”
The scenes in Chan Pine Ridge and Tower Hill were also quiet and there were no lines at either of these two communities when we arrived in the early afternoon. The voter turnout in Orange Walk was generally low and the elections went without any major incident. Marion Ali for News Five.
The U.D.P. earlier today claimed victory in most villages but we will report on the official results as soon as they are available from the Elections and Boundaries Department.