BELMOPAN, Wed. Feb. 10, 2021– During Wednesday’s sitting of the Senate, the appointments of new members of the Elections and Boundaries Commission by the Briceño administration were officially ratified by the Senate. These five members — chairman, Oscar Sabido; and members Orlando Espat, Phillipa Bailey, Conrad Lewis, and Alberto August — will serve for the next five years.
During the sitting, Senator Osmany Salas expressed his hopes of seeing reformation inside the Elections and Boundaries Commission and adoption of policies and procedures from other Elections and Boundaries Commission models in the Caribbean, particularly the model in Jamaica, which has proved successful. He also said that he felt that the members of the Senate were not given sufficient time to review the appointees and that he considered the five-year term to be too long.
“We need to put in place reform, as far as the electoral system is concerned, and I have mentioned before that if we look at what some of our sister nations have done, they have a very good template that we can follow that can guide us to ensure that we have an independent and adequately resourced Elections and Boundaries Commission, rather than the two electoral management bodies in the country that we have at this time, where we have a commission that is effectively a shell,” Senator Salas remarked.
In his remarks, Lead Opposition Senator, Michael Peyrefitte claimed that Alberto August, who is a member of the commission, is the longest serving member, having held a position on the commission for 13 years. Senator Courtenay pointed out, however, that Orlando Espat has also served for a similar duration.
In commenting on Senator Salas’ concern about the five-year term of the appointments, Senator Peyrefitte said, “I don’t necessarily [have] a difficulty with the five years. If you want to see serious number of changes, then you have to have, give people time to develop policy, to develop strategies, and I wouldn’t worry [about] the five years. Initially I would say I worry about the five years, Madam President, because they would take them to February 1, 2026, but I am sure the chairman would do the right thing and resign on November 12, 2025.”