By Michelle Sutherland
For decades the Village Council Elections across the country have managed to stay wholly independent of major political parties, but recently it seems that the long tentacles of the two major political parties have been extending their reach and their influence into the villages where they are now either claiming victories or defeat.
This week, The Reporter reached out to Chief Elections Officer Josephine Tamai to inquire whether this emerging practice is legal. She responded, “Well there is nothing legally to say that it should be independent of any political party, but yes we have noticed that.”
Tamai added, “Even when visiting the various stations you see the political flags, people dressed in their shirts similar to when we have general and municipal elections, but there is nothing to say that it cannot be political as such, nothing really prevents it because we have also seen some independent slates as well.”
Tamai also confirmed that over the past years the Elections and Boundaries Department have also been noticing the trend where village council elections are becoming more aligned with the two major political parties. She, however, also pointed out that they are also seeing an increase in independent candidates seeking to be elected at the village council level.
When we asked Tamai whether the department is concerned about the situation she told us that it isn't a concern for them at this point. She reiterated that there are still rules and regulations that govern the village council elections and that those are enforced. She gave examples such as the 100 yards mark where political parties are allowed to conduct their campaigning, which is also enforced by members of the Belize Police Department, whose job it is to maintain law and order among the public.