Elections and Boundaries Department Under Attack

By
Updated: October 9, 2015

Elections have been set for Wednesday, November 4. It appears that things are heating up as Chief Elections Officer Josephine Tamai has told the media that her department is being targeted.

JOSEPHINE TAMAI

“When she heard the knock she mentioned to me that she thought it was the police officer patrolling because even though you have an officer stationed there they still patrol the area just to check on them and it was at that point when she was confronted by someone from one of the political offices stating that she is a candidate and she wants to know what the officer is doing at that office. My officer explained to me that she told the person that she was there working. We are not open to the public and I will tell you if we were open to the public then nobody would have even had to knock on any door. It was through a burglar bar door that she spoke to the person. She was aware that she was being recorded, at that point in time the officer was actually embarrassed or wondering why he was being questioned. As persons know that even as public officers we transfer. Yes the person at the office was recently transferred to that area, sure she’s not really familiar with many of faces. She mentioned that she was approached by this candidate along with two other persons at that point in time. She went back to her desk and she continued with her work that was about 9am. About 10am she reported again that she attempted to leave the office along with one of the police officers the police officer who was stationed there and at that point it was when she came outside to lock the office that she saw a group of persons outside and those persons, one of them assaulted her; she hit in the face and for me that is very disturbing.”

Tamai said the incident in Benque Viejo del Carmen was not an isolated one since they also had a disturbance at one of their Belize City offices.

JOSEPHINE TAMAI

“Many people don’t understand what it is that registering officers go through. People complain and say you are doing certain things and that is not the case and it’s very disturbing and I will go further to say that that is not the only incident that we had. At our Lumber Yard office here in Belize City last night again the staff heard a noise about 8pm in the night. When they came outside they saw eggs being thrown at the door, they took it as nothing. When they got back to the office this morning it was then that they realized that an object was thrown as well. We know that we have persons or cameras that recorded whatever happened, the police went in, they looked at the situation.  Actually services are temporarily postponed at present because they have to cordon off the area and look into this incident because the police are saying that it’s a suspected grenade that was thrown at one of our offices. Again I will say as a department we cannot stand for that, that is not what is required  of us. We are required to perform our duties to the best of our abilities. We have a job to do. Like I mentioned earlier in the meeting with political parties the representation of the people act provides for political parties to appoint scrutineers to be at the office during normal working hours as long as registration is taking place. They have that authority so if anybody feels as if though anything is happening then they can utilize the avenue that is available to them but I will tell you that our officers are simply out there doing the job that is required of them and I’m hoping that we will put a stop to this immediately because it cannot continue. It’s not about the Election and Boundaries Department, it’s about the people of Belize. We are only doing the job that is required of us nothing more.”

Tamai said registration of new electors continues however new electors will not be able to participate in the upcoming elections.

JOSEPHINE TAMAI

“I’ve heard whereby persons are saying but persons are still being registered. Yes in Belize we have a system of continuous registration so registration continues despite the fact that an election has been called . However the public is informed of our public notice that we have placed a deadline for persons to be able to vote in this election the deadline for them to be registered was the 10th of September so persons registering after that date will not be eligible to vote in this election which will be held on the 4th of November.”

We understand that the Election Clerk who was hit in the face made a report against her attacker.