No to Corruption! Print E-mail
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Thursday, 17 October 2013 00:00

PM Hon. Dean Barrow at Press ConferenceThe message was clear and the messenger was dead serious on Tuesday, October 15th, when Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize, made his way to the NEMO building in Belmopan with the entire cabinet with him. He was to make a historic announcement- the United Democratic Party will simply not tolerate corruption even if it means that it comes that much closer to losing its margin of victory.

The Prime Minister announced during a press conference that by a unanimous decision from Cabinet, it was decided that Hon. Elvin Penner would be asked to resign as a member of the Party and as Area Representative for Cayo North East. The decision was made after, “other instances of what to us are irregularities surfaced,” stated PM Barrow. He added that while the evidence presented to Cabinet was enough for it to act, in this manner, there may not be sufficient for a court of law to act on. He pointed out that there was a difference between “factual guilt and legal guilt.” He added that there was enough “material presented to cabinet to prove he was involved in irregularities.”

During the weekend, Hon. Godwin Hulse and other personnel from the Ministry of Immigration found more evidence to suggest that Penner may have been involved in other irregularities at the ministry and because of that discovery the Cabinet decided that they could no longer continue to support him. “In our view he cannot any longer continue to represent the people of the Cayo North East constituency.” That decision extended also to him being a representative of the United Democratic Party.

The decision said the Prime Minister, was one that was told to Penner even before the public announcement so that he was not taken by surprise by it. The decision, stated the PM, is irreversible, but still if Penner chooses to not resign there is nothing that can be done to force him to vacate his seat or to leave the UDP. “If Hon. Penner heeds our request that he resign from the house, that he resign from the United Democratic Party, then the procedures are set in motion for him to vacate the seat and for a bi-election to take place. If he refuses to resign from the UDP or the House there is not a thing that any of us can do to oust him from that seat,” stated the PM. There was however hope that he will do the right thing by his party and heed the call to resign said Hon. Barrow.

Having now made the decision to ask Penner to leave, there is the risk that the seat be turned over to the PUP, but it is a risk that the Prime Minister stated he is ready to accept.

The decision by the Prime Minister, and the rock solid position of no-tolerance to corruption has now been etched in the history books. Hon. Dean Barrow will go down in history as the first and so far the only leader of a political party to have taken a position where one of its own has been fired from cabinet and now asked to leave the party and representative’s position because of allegations of corruption. The decision is one which must be lauded especially because of the possibility of the narrowing of the margin of majority which the UDP holds over the PUP which is only two.

It is clear then, the Prime Minister cannot say it in any clearer form the UDP is saying No to Corruption!