Features — 01 April 2014 — by Rowland A. Parks

The Opposition People’s United Party (PUP) today has resumed its fight to unseat the disgraced United Democratic Party (UDP) area representative for the Cayo North East constituency, Elvin Penner, with an application for a judicial review of the Chief Elections Officer’s decision to reject over three hundred signatures that it had collected in its election petition to trigger a recall referendum for Penner.

The judicial review application was filed on behalf of Orlando “Landy” Habet, the PUP standard-bearer for the Cayo North East constituency, along with four other registered voters from the constituency.

PUP senator and attorney Lisa Shoman told reporters outside of the Supreme Court Registry, just before the papers were filed, that the Party is filing the judicial review application for the referendum petition to have the court make a decision on the 337 signatures that the Chief Elections Officer rejected in the party’s election petition drive.

Shoman said that what the PUP is requesting of the court is for the Chief Elections Officer to review the 337 signatures.

Asked what the PUP expects to get out of this, Shoman said, “We are expecting to have sufficient signatures to be sent to the Governor General to trigger a recall referendum.”

Shoman said that the Party is not concerned about the fact that a high voter turnout – 65% of registered voters in the constituency – would be necessary for the referendum to succeed.

“Everybody thought that the COLA application would not go anywhere,” Shoman said.

Orlando Habet commented that the people of the Cayo North East constituency and the people of Belize are hopeful that the recall referendum will be held.

Shoman said that the PUP’s request for a judicial review is based on several grounds – one of which is a contention that the fact that the signatures in the Elections and Boundaries binders did not match the signatures on the petition forms was not a basis for rejection of those signatures.

“There is nothing in the law that says the signatures must match,” Shoman explained.

She added: “There is also the issue of people who signed duplicates and triplicate petition forms.”

But before the case is heard, the PUP must first convince the court, in a leave hearing, that it has sufficient grounds for the court to grant leave for its judicial review to be heard.

Penner, the architect of a monumental immigration scandal that has been rocking the Barrow administration since last September when the scandal first broke, was charged in a private lawsuit filed by Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA) last week and was released on a $2,000 bail, following his arraignment on two criminal charges for his alleged violation of the Belize Passport Act and the Belize Nationality Act.

The PUP’s legal challenge to the December 31, 2013 rejection of the petition signatures comes days after the government served notice on the Leader of the Opposition that it is appealing the Supreme Court mandamus order to Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie to conclude his criminal investigation of the Penner passport matter—the clearest indication that the government is fighting “tooth and nail” not to apply the criminal law in the Penner passport debacle; and no one has still not been made to say who issued the instruction for the police to halt their initial investigation into the Won Hong Kim matter.

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