Posted: Thursday, June 21, 2018. 3:20 p.m. CST.
The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Breaking Belize News.
By Francis Fonseca: The re-registration exercise starts on July 2, 2018.
10 days out there is much cause for concern regarding the fairness, effectiveness and even the legality of the manner in which the exercise is being carried out.
As of today June 21, 2018, there is no legally constituted Elections &Boundaries (E&B) Commission. The opposition PUP has long named its two (2) commission members but they have yet to be sworn in.
With no legally constituted E&B Commission, the question arises, who is directing the actions and decisions of the E&B department?
There appears to be a deliberate effort and strategy to delay constituting the Commission so as to allow the ruling political directorate ( represented by the UDPs Douglas Singh) to guide all decisions regarding the re-registration and redistricting processes.
The Vital Statistics Unit which has a central role to play in the re-registration campaign has already begun to show early signs of bias in the processing of birth certificate applications with well known UDP operatives engaged in bullying and intimidation of public officers to gain political advantage.
Part-time workers being employed by the E&B office to work on the re-registration exercise are largely being identified for employment via the recommendations of UDP Representatives and Caretakers.
Thousands of unqualified persons who were illegally registered to vote in the 2012 and 2015 General Elections remain eligible to re-register because their invalid and unlawful nationality certificates have yet to be revoked by the department of immigration and nationality.
The opposition PUP has been kept largely in the dark with queries and concerns going mostly unanswered and in some cases unacknowledged.
This should be deeply troubling to any Belizean, regardless of political persuasion, who cares about protecting our democratic institutions and upholding the rule of law.
We must not remain complacent in the face of obvious disregard for the institutions which protect the integrity of our electoral system. If we do, then we have no one to blame except ourselves for the Government we get.
We must collectively demand that the E&B Commission be legally constituted immediately.
The opposition and indeed all political parties must be given full access to all information and data available.
The Vital Statistics Unit must be open and available to all on an equitable basis.
The E&B office should hire Part-time workers from a pool of students on summer vacation from the University of Belize and other tertiary education institutions and NOT from a pool of UDP constituency campaigners.
If we fail to get this Re-registration and Re-Districting exercise right, truly free and fair elections will continue to elude us and our democracy could very well be in peril for the next 25 years.
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