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‘Forthwith’ to 36 days: Chief Elections Officer received petitions more than a month later

The Elections and Boundaries Department received the 1700 signed petitions that were submitted by former UDP Port Loyola Area Representative Anthony “Boots” Martinez one week ago, Chief Elections Officer Josephine Tamai confirmed this week.

 

Tamai, to whom The Reporter had sent multiple messages inquiring about the status of the petitions, appeared on the Love FM’s Morning Show on Monday, February 26, where she confirmed that she received the signatures from Governor General Froyla Tzalam last week Wednesday, February 21st, 2024, more than a month after the January 16th submission.

 

Since then, Tamai says that the vetting of the signatures has begun, and she hopes to complete that process within the one-month time frame that is afforded to her under the Recall of the Elected Officials Act.

 

Based on that timeline, the vetting should be completed around March 21st, 2024, at which juncture she will inform the Governor General whether or not the signatures were valid.

 

According to the Recall of Elected Officials Act, if the signatures are deemed valid, the Governor General will then have a maximum of 15 days within which to issue the Writ of Referendum for the recall aimed at removing the incumbent Port Loyola Area Representative Hon. Gilroy Usher. This, therefore, allows the Governor General to issue the writ in early April.

 

The date, however, for the referendum must be at least 15 days after the date on which the Writ is issued.

 

Martinez hosted a press briefing in Belize City on Monday where criticized Governor General Her Excellency Froyla Tzalam, saying that despite multiple calls to her office inquiring about the status of his petitions. He explained that he did not receive any word and was only made aware of the petition’s status via Tamai’s interview with Love FM/TV.

 

"That is flouting the law,” said Martinez, who underscored that the law instructed that the Governor General should submit the signatures “forthwith”. 

 

He added, “I have difficulty, in my humble opinion, in the Governor General breaking the law.  And I find that to be very delinquent, her office to be very delinquent, very disingenuous and totally dishonest.”

 

He added that he has since sought the advice of Senior Council Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow to hold the head of state accountable for what he believes is her breaking the law.

 

Following Martinez's press conference, the Government, via its press release, issued a statement saying that Martinez was wrong to bring the Governor General, who represents the crown, into disrepute. The Government says that they have since asked the Attorney General to investigate Boot's claims.

 

"Our laws further mandate that it is unlawful for any person to bring the Governor General in her official capacity into contempt, disrepute, or disaffection,” wrote the Government. “Whether one agrees or disagrees with this, the fact remains that this is what the supreme law of the country and the laws of Belize commands.”

 

On January 16th, 2024, Martinez handed over 1,700 signed petitions to the Governor General. Those, by law, were to be forwarded to the Chief Elections Officer "forthwith", however, by all indications that was not done.

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