Prime Minister calls general elections for November 4
My Fellow Belizeans,
When you turned to the United Democratic Party and gave us your confidence in 2008, it was for us to fix all that had gone so horribly wrong in the decade of misrule since 1998.
Our country was burdened by the super bond; strait-jacketed by fiscal austerity; unable to operate a bankrupt DFC and a near insolvent social security; suffering from surging levels of poverty and neglect; and shunned by international concessionary lenders disgusted with the last Administration's thievery of public monies. The UDP's overwhelming priority was thus to replenish the state's coffers; restore local and international confidence; rescue citizens desperately in need of relief; and bring back integrity to the Office of the Prime Minister whose outgoing PUP occupant had, in 2005, been presented with a certificate of corruption by Union and Civil Society leaders.
And so for almost 8 years now, my team and I have striven to clean up the mess we inherited, while simultaneously transforming the lives of the Belizean people.
And our record on this 28th day of September 2015 is such that even our fiercest critics must concede the tremendous advances we have recorded:
the super bond was restructured, saving the country $500m; public finances are robust; reserves are at historic highs; public officers are better paid than ever; the BOOST and Food Pantry programs are renowned poverty-fighting models for this entire region; tuition and scholarship grants have expanded educational opportunities for thousands of families; the economy has added more than 4500 jobs each year since 2007; the DFC is strong again; social security is safe and looking to increase benefits; and the new NBB has delivered thousands of small and midsize loans to the poor and the middle class.
Besides all this, investments in healthcare, education and citizen security have reversed the PUP decline, and affordable development financing is once again flowing freely from Belize’s IFI sponsors.
Most dramatically, of course, hundreds of millions in low cost Petrocaribe funds are being invested in national infrastructure and community development. And this has resulted in an unprecedented proliferation of new highways, bridges, roads, streets, drains and sporting facilities in our cities, towns and villages.
In recent weeks, in what can be viewed as the latest chapter in national resurgence, we have settled claims for both the BEL and BTL acquisitions. These vital public utilities are now and forever more part of the national patrimony, and benefits redound to Belizeans by way of the lowest light and telecom rates ever.
Having secured this period of restoration, I believe the time has come to ask you for a fresh mandate. The clean-up having been completed, the UDP must focus now exclusively on the positive, on forwarding opportunity and change. A New Belize must burst forth, where progress, prosperity and stability can reign untrammeled.
This New Belize is to be one where learning and job opportunities vitalize the abundant skills of our young people; where families feel safe in their neighborhoods and homes; where rural dwellers have ready access to classrooms, clinics and industry; where our entrepreneurs and employers pay fewer, fairer taxes and where the innovations of governance serve all our citizens and the national interest.
To forge ahead, to strike out in different directions, to fertilize this new bloom of change and advance and inclusion, we must re-inscribe our compact with the people. Accordingly, I have today advised the Governor General to dissolve the National Assembly and to fix Wednesday November 4, 2015 as the date for the next general elections, with Friday October 16 being Nomination Day.
The Team of 31 candidates that our Party will submit to you is, in my view, the best ever. Conscious of the necessity and demand for clean, competent and compassionate leadership, I am especially proud that the democratic process in our Party has yielded such a superb roster of aspirants. I am therefore certain that a re-elected UDP would deliver transformative results, including the defeat of the remaining pockets of public and private sector corruption.
You the citizen, the voter, hold the most important power in our democracy, and exercise supreme authority and judgment at election time. Because we know that your decision will be based on the record and character of those seeking your support, we in the UDP are confident of the victory. But ultimately it is a matter for you. My Party and I therefore pledge both our commitment to a peaceful election, and our absolute respect for whatever outcome you determine.
The best is yet to come, and may God bless Belize.
As is the norm with every election, whether general or municipal, there are a list of do’s and don’ts for Election Day, and enforcement for the November fourth general elections will be no different.
The Election and Boundaries Commission will ensure that people abide by the rules, which include no selling of liquor during voting hours, and no active campaigning within the 100-yard line at polling stations.
Before the big day, however, will be Nomination Day, set for Friday, October 16. A press release from the Government’s Press Office states that nominations of persons contesting the elections will be received between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. on that day at the various nomination centers throughout the country.
For Election Day, November fourth, polls will open at 7:00 a.m. and close at 6:00 p.m. after which counting will take place. This means that only those persons who were already in the line at the time the polls close will be allowed to cast their votes.
A release from the Government’s Press Office quotes section 57(1) of the Representation of the People Registration Rules which states:
“The persons entitled to vote at the election of a divisional representative shall be those persons whose names appear on the register for that division as existing on the Nomination Day.”
The release further states that only the names of persons who were registered on or prior to September 10, 2015 will appear on the register and are eligible to vote in the elections.
It explains that persons who applied to be registered after September 10, 2015 would not have gone through the process required by law by Nomination Day.
The registers for the electoral divisions are posted at the Elections and Boundaries offices throughout the country and people are advised to visit these offices and check the register before Election Day.
Nomination Day photos Nomination Day for the upcoming 2015 General Elections are currently being held across the country. Here in the Belize Rural South Constituency, nominations are taking place at the San Pedro Town Council. First to be nominated was the People’s United Party candidate, Jose “Elito” Arceo. Nominating Arceo were Gualberto “Wally” Nuñez, Marina Graniel, Edwardo “Giovanni” Solorzano, Ricardo Aguilar, Seleny Pott and Patricia Marin. “I am humbled by the support everyone has given us in San Pedro and Caye Caulker. Thank you very much for coming out and supporting the PUP during nomination day. We are ready to take back this country,” said Arceo.
Belize Progressive Party’s Nominations in the Belize Rural South Nominations in the Belize Rural South Constituency continue with the Belize Progressive Party’s candidate Robert “Bobby” Lopez. The BPP is a new political party, consisting of members from the Visions Inspired by the People, People’s National Party, We the People and other independent candidates. Lopez was nominated by Leilani Lopez Paz, Felipe Paz, Martin Dawson, Luis Cordova and Hilberto Sanchez. “We are planting the seed of change. This is a historical election, never before in the political history of Belize has there been a formidable third alternative for the two mass parties. It is now up to the people to decide,” said Lopez.
People’s United Party parade The People’s United Party was the first to parade through the streets of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye today as they followed the lead of PUP Standard Bearer for Belize Rural South, Elito Arceo.
With Nomination Day for the upcoming General Elections 2015 on November 4 being held across the country today, Belize Rural South nominations are taking place in San Pedro Town. First to head to the San Pedro Town Council to be nominated was Mr. Jose Elito Arceo who was nominated by Gualberto Nunez, Giovanni Solorzano, Marina Graniel, Patricia Marin, Ricardo Aguilar and Seleny Pott.
“Today as I was officially nominated as the PUP candidate to represent Belize Rural South, I have to say I was moved and touched by the tremendous out pouring of support and encouragement. I WILL be the change we need and I WILL be the voice we deserve! Muchas gracias a todos!” commented Elito Arceo.
The last contender for the Belize Rural South Constituency has been officially nominated The incumbent United Democratic Party’s candidate, Manuel Heredia Jr. was nominated by San Pedro Mayor Daniel Guerrero, Juana Julia Martinez, Fernando Sosa, Ralph Humes, Maura Marina Fonzalez and Susana Cecelia Flores. “I feel extremely happy to have the full support of my family, friends and the community of both Caye Caulker and San Pedro. Let us continue this harmony that we have manifested. Let us make sure that we continue to bring our islands to the highest level, particularly in tourism. The best is yet to come,” said Heredia.
Candidates officially nominated for 2015 General Elections On Friday, October 16th the 31 constituencies that make up Belize held Nomination Day to officially submit the names of the candidates who will be contesting the upcoming General Elections. With elections scheduled for Wednesday, November 4th, three candidates are now officially in the running for Area Representative of the Belize Rural South (BRS). Contestants representing the People’s United Party (PUP), United Democratic Party (UDP) and the Belize Progressive Party (BPP) appeared before Returning Officer Martin Alegria and Election Clerk Leodan Torres at the San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) where they were nominated by six registered voters of BRS.
Please note the San Pedro BRS Standard Bearer debate has been rescheduled for Friday, October 23rd. 7PM at the Sunbreeze Conference room, only ticket holders will be admitted. It will also be aired live on Reef Radio/TV.
Meet your Belize Rural South Standard Bearer Candidates!
The San Pedro Sun has taken the opportunity to present the Standard Bearers candidates seeking votes from the Belize Rural South Constituency.
Name: Jose “Elito” Arceo
Representing Party: PUP
What is your vision for Belize Rural South? My vision for this area is to make it an area of opportunity and growth that will have long term sustainability. Caye Caulker and San Pedro are two of the most popular destinations in not only the country but in the world. We will insure this continued popularity and also grow them as destinations by doing our best to promote and protect our two most valuable resources, our environment and our people. These elements are what bring people to our islands so we must protect the environment that attracts visitors and at the same time provide adequate support to our people who welcome the world to their islands with open arms. The other part of my vision has to do with creating the proper infrastructure on our islands to guarantee long term sustainability of our communities.
Name: Jose Manuel Heredia Jr.
Representing Party: UDP
What is your vision for Belize Rural South? My vision for Belize Rural South is for every child to be educated and that all housing and health needs are met. And for our island to continue to provide jobs and prosperity for all its residents.
What do you see as the four most critical issues in Belize Rural South; how do you propose to address them and in what time frame? With five years, traffic, continuous road completion, need for more schools and controlling effects of climate change will be addressed with consultancy and collaboration of the San Pedro Town Council and lobbying with Central Government. I will keep residents well informed of all developments.
Name: Robert “Bobby” Lopez
Representing Party: BPP
What is your vision for Belize Rural South? My vision is to establish Belize Rural South into the most vibrant, democratically managed, progress oriented and economically viable constituency in the entire country.
What do you see as the four most critical issues in Belize Rural South; how do you propose to address them and in what time frame? Housing; Job creation, Education and Environment
Click here to read the rest of this excellent article in the San Pedro Sun
The rules of Election Day remain the same as that of past years. All political parties and candidates are expected to conduct themselves in a civil manner while abiding by the rules agreed on. No political booths or political banners will be allowed within the 100-yard polling area. Members of the media will also need to maintain the same distance from the polls and wait for an election officer to feed them with information.
In San Pedro, Polling Area 37 will be at the San Pedro High School (SPHS), with 15 polling stations broken down in alphabetical order. The 100-yard area will extend around the circumference of the school’s property. The restricted area will include sections of Spider Lily Street which runs from the beach to the junction of Laguna Drive. As for residents of Caye Caulker, they will be casting their votes at Polling Area 34 and 38 which is the Caye Caulker Roman Catholic School. Polling Area 34 and 38, will be broken down into two polling stations. The BRS constituency is made up of Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker and St. George’s Caye with a total of 8,749 registered voters. A total of 7,844 votes are registered in Ambergris Caye, while 905 are registered for both Caye Caulker and St. George’s Caye.
The process for voting will be as usual; electors can only vote for one of the three candidates that will appear on the ballot in alphabetical order. If an elector votes for more than one person, the ballot will be discarded. In order to make the election process easier, electorates are encouraged to have with them their Voter’s Registration Card (ID) on Election Day or any other form of identification. At the polling area, the polling stations will be labeled with letters corresponding to the first letter of the elector’s surname, directing which line he/she should take to cast their vote.
Inside the polling station the elector will be required to present a form of identification. If the person does not have an identification his/her name will be searched in the Elections and Boundaries Department Voter’s Binders to verify the identity of the person. When the elector’s identity has been found, his/her name will be called out loud. Next, the person will dip his/her index finger of his right hand into violet colored ink. Then the person will be issued with a ballot that has the signature of the Presiding Officer. The elector will then proceed to the booth and cast his/her vote and fold the ballot paper. He/she then holds up the folded ballot paper for the election’s clerk to show the signature of the Presiding Officer and then the completed ballot is placed into a ballot box. If for some reason the elector cannot vote for him/herself, the Presiding Officer will allow a family member to accompany the elector to assist him/her in casting their vote.
Polls countrywide will open at 6AM for voting to start at 7AM and closed at 6PM.
Click here to read the rest of the article and see more photos in the San Pedro Sun
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According to Returning Officer Martin Alegria, the first hours of polling saw a total of 1,451 votes cast in Polling Area 37 at the San Pedro High School while 302 votes had been cast in Polling Area 34 and 38 at the Caye Caulker Roman Catholic School. The morning has seen a steady flow of voters and Alegria believes that the pace will pick up by midday.
In an interview with The San Pedro Sun, incumbent Area Representative Heredia indicated that his machinery is working perfectly. “My people are coming out. The turnout for me is very good. My machinery is working to ensure that we keep a steady flow of voters. I am very optimistic of the results. The people know what the UDP have done and they will elect us once more. As our motto say ‘the best is yet to come’,” said Heredia.
As for Arceo, he is also confident with his machinery and the support he has received from the community. “Today is going to be nice and calm. We will have a high voter turnout. We have made arrangements on how to get our voters to the polls and back home. You have to consider that some people face challenges in transportation so we are here to assist them and ensure everyone exercises their right to vote. We have our machinery both in Caye Caulker and San Pedro to get everyone out,” said Arceo.
Click here to read the rest of the article and see more photos in the San Pedro Sun
Things I Didn’t Know About Elections in Belize: 6 Interesting Facts
Today is National Election Day – from the Prime Minister on down. And the only elections that I had ever witnesses were those in the US (we are in the midst of the long Presidential process right now) – so Belizean elections are exciting to me each time. And different in many ways what I was used to…more fanfare and rallying. More people on the streets…
Here are some interesting things to me about elections in my beloved Belize.
The process is:
– enter voting room. give your id card for your name to be called and found on their list that you are to vote in that area.
– once verified,, then go to the next person who will ask you to dip your right index finger up to the first joint into the ink
– once done, you then get your ballot paper
– that paper has the signature of the one supervising the voting.. forgot the technical name of that person.
– so you go, then put your “X” with the pencil next to the name.
– fold the paper with the signature of the one that provided it showing.
– show them that it is folded and the signature is visible, then put in ballot box.
Click here to read the rest of the article and see more photos on San Pedro Scoop!