On Friday we told you that Prime Minister is calling for Steve Perera's resignation as chairman of the Elections and Boundaries Commission. Today Perera responded to those comments but was still non-committal on whether he will stay or go.
But, a four page statement makes it clear that he's under no compulsion to go!
Instead, he fired off a statement answering questions about the position as chairman of the E&B. He ended the four paged document urging the PM and the UDP to read the relevant section of the law and that makes it clear that his appointment is apolitical, suggesting very clearly that he has no obligation to resign.
And while Perera has not given a concrete answer, PM Briceno's comments in the House of Representatives were solid - he's appointed by the UDP and the moral choice is for him to step down.
Hon John Briceno, Prime Minister
"When it comes to Steve Perera, Steve Perera is my friend. But everybody know that Steve Perera is a UDP. And I told him, Steve, me and you dah friend but you dah UDP, and that's fine, that's your decision. When the former Prime Minister appointed Steve Perera two or three months before general elections, he knew that an election as going to come, he didn't appoint Steve Perera for three months, or six months, he appointed Steve Perera for five years. And now, when you appoint the elections and boundaries commission, check this out, you appoint two members from the opposition, we appoint two, and then you have Steve Perara so you control the Elections and Boundaries Commission. You think we stupid?"
"I am saying publicly right now, Steve Perera needs to do the decent and honest thing and he needs to resign from the Elections and Boundaries Commission. The practice has always been that they resign, it has always been the practice that they resign, and Steve Perera must resign from the Elections and Boundaries Commission."
We reached out to Perera, who declined an interview at this time, but did say that the document is solely for the purpose of educating the public and not an indication of his decision.
Chairman of the Elections and Boundaries Educates the Public
Will Elections and Boundaries Commission Chairman Estevan Perera resign? Perera is not saying, but Prime Minister John Briceño has called for him to resign. You’ll recall that he was appointed as Chairman of the Commission back in July 2020, four months before the General Elections. And while many political appointees under the previous administration have vacated their positions immediately after the November elections, Perera, who is an attorney, hasn’t done so. At Friday’s Sitting of the House of Representatives, Prime Minister Briceño called him out as a member of the U.D.P. and implored Perera to resign or that they will have to seek another course to get him to give up the chairmanship. In a four-page document he sent to the media today, the chairman says that he has been getting requests for interviews, so he took the liberty to respond via a letter outlining the commission’s role and the tenure of its members. In the document, Perera lists off several questions, each followed by his responses. He states that the Elections and Boundaries Commission’s appointments were made under the Constitution of Belize; that the only two requirements are to be of integrity and to be of high national standing. In response to the question about how the Constitution provides for the removal of the commissioners, Perera refers to the Constitution itself, writing, “Section eighty-eight of the Constitution provides that a person can only be removed if he or she becomes a member of the National Assembly; if he or she becomes a public servant; once the five-year term ends and for misbehavior.” Chairman Perera also noted that the Commission is not to be confused with statutory boards such as the B.T.B. and the Social Security.
He pointed out that those boards may be changed at any time at the government’s will, but that the Elections and Boundaries Commission has far greater protections than those statutory boards. In responding to the question about benefits as chair or member of the commission, Perera writes that they do not receive a salary, but is given a stipend of two thousand dollars monthly, while the other members receive a monthly stipend of five hundred dollars. Perera ends with a personal view that “Section eighty-eight of the Constitution does not need to be amended or rewritten, but it certainly needs to be reread by all political parties.”