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On Friday, March 11, 2022, non-governmental organizations in good standing convened to participate in the democratic election of its next representative in the Senate. Two candidates had offered themselves for the post: Dr. Sharmayne Saunders was nominated by the Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association and Haven House while Janelle Chanona was nominated by the National Garifuna Council, the Belize Tourism Industry Association and the Belize Audubon Society. Of the thirty-one votes cast, Chanona received 21 votes while Dr. Saunders received 10 votes. The election process and results were supervised and audited by Swift and Associates. She will be officially swearn in as Belize's 13th Senator at the next sitting of the Senate.

Chanona has been the country lead of Oceana in Belize since January 2014. The former journalist turned advocate today reiterated her patriotic commitment to the process of nation-building. "I commit to honoring the vote of confidence that I've received today through hard work and inclusive representation, shared Senator-elect Chanona. "The contributions of the NGO community to national development via multiple sectors is tremendous and their voices deserve to be amplified in the corridors of power in support of informed decision making and good governance."

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Oceana Vice President Janelle Chanona will succeed parliamentarian Osmany Salas in the upper house as the next N.G.O. Senator. That change will come into effect as early as the next sitting of the house. Senator Salas tendered his resignation recently, prompting the N.G.O. community to seek a replacement. When the call was made for interested candidates to come forward, the former journalist turned environmentalist submitted her name, along with Dr. Sharmaine Saunders. A subsequent vote saw Chanona emerging victorious. This afternoon, Chanona spoke with the media and shared with us what the new position means to her in the context of advocating on behalf of the N.G.O. community.