BELIZE CITY, Mon. Mar. 1, 2021– The preparations for municipal elections are nearing completion, and voters are expected to visit the polls this Wednesday, March 3. Across the country, mayoral and councilor candidates have been campaigning vigorously, and the United Democratic Party (UDP) is hoping to claim redemption after the devastating loss they faced at the hands of the People’s United Party (PUP) in 2020’s general election.
Per the standard, six councilor-candidates and one mayoral candidate will be representing each political party, except in Belize City where, due to its size, each party is putting forward a total of ten councilor-candidates and 1 mayoral candidate. Tensions have been especially high in the city, as the UDP’s Orson Picart and his team of ten have been rallying to overthrow the incumbent Bernard Wagner and his mixed team of both new and returning candidates.
Last Wednesday, the UDP team 11 launched their manifesto under the theme, “Bring back fi we city,” which was filled with promises of enhanced community relations, online digital trade for market vendors and more entrepreneurial initiatives. It seems, however, that beyond their promises for a better municipal strategy, the UDP are deploying all possible strategies in an effort to regain control of the City Council.
The UDP 11, through the aid of party chairman Michael Peyrefitte, made a Supreme Court application last week to have Mayor Bernard Wagner disqualified from the race, based on the Belize City Council Act Chapter 85, Revised Edition 2011 section 7-1, which states that no person can seek office in the City Council without having resided in the city for at least one year prior to elections. Because Mayor Wagner resides beyond city limits, he had been called to a court hearing at the eleventh hour on Monday, March 1, 2020.
Things are just as suspenseful in Corozal, where voters of the Corozal Bay Division will be electing not only town council representatives, but also a new area representative, who will be either Elvia Samos of the PUP or Hilberto Campos of the UDP. The by-elections are being held as a result of the death of elected PUP area representative David Vega (Samos’ brother) last December. In the district’s municipal elections, returning Rigo Vellos of the PUP will have to win the hearts of the northern voters, despite the hail of criticisms coming from a team of opponents headed by the UDP’s Roger Arana.
As previously reported, one hundred and sixty (160) persons have been nominated to run in the 2021 Municipal Elections. Nominations came from the People’s United Party, the United Democratic Party, the Belize Progressive Party, the Belize People’s Front and the United Upliftment Party, which consists of one individual from Dangriga. Twelve independent candidates are also vying for a seat. The UDP currently holds power in six of Belize’s nine municipalities, with a minority seat in UDP Dangriga. The polls will open at 7:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 3, 2020, and the GOB has enacted a curfew from 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. for the occasion.
Late this evening the courts adjourned the UDP’s challenge to Bernard Wagner’s mayoral candidacy until April 19th 2021. Reports are the Mayor and the Chief Elections Officer were not properly served as is mandated by the courts.