Posted: Saturday, December 12, 2020. 11:48 am CST.
By Aaron Humes: “Very premature” though it may be after his sudden passing, Prime Minister John Briceño told reporters on Friday that he will have to contemplate holding a by-election for the seat of Corozal Bay held by the now-deceased David “Dido” Vega.
Vega died at 9:15 a.m. Friday after being hospitalized and intubated for several days at Belize Health Care Partners Hospital, suffering from COVID-19.
Vega joins late People’s United Party (PUP) Cayo South area representative Agripino Cawich as the only Belizean parliamentarians to die while in office, though he could not take his oath as Cawich did. Cawich, known as “Pino”, passed a few months after defeating the United Democratic Party’s (UDP) John Saldivar in the 2003 general election after a cancer diagnosis. Saldivar won the subsequent by-election for the seat, one of only four ever held in Belizean history up to 2015.
The Constitution, at section 85(3)(a), provides that a by-election for a vacancy in the House of Representatives other than by dissolution of the House must be held within 90 days of the vacancy, unless the House is sooner dissolved. That would put the latest date for such an election at March 11, 2021, which might allow the Prime Minister to hold it the same day as the municipal elections which are legally due on the first Wednesday in March (March 3, 2021).
But Briceño said that at this point it’s far too early to talk about an election while the party and the constituency are in mourning.
Former UDP incumbent Pablo Marin had indicated he was now retired from electoral politics and Leader of the Opposition Patrick Faber likewise demurred on that party’s plans to reporters out of respect for Vega and his family.
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