General

Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington and DPP Vidal must go, PUP says

The Opposition, People’s United Party (PUP) Chairman, Henry Charles Usher called for the removal of Attorney General and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington and Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Cheryl-Lynn Vidal.

Usher made the remarks,  which appears to be a new PUP position, at a press conference at Independence Hall. “We in the PUP state very loud and clear that the attorney general has lost the confidence of the Belizean people and should be replaced. We also declare that there is a crisis of confidence in the Department of Public Prosecution.”

Usher added that after four years in office, the DPP has a complete lack of confidence from the Belizean people. “We call on her to step aside and allow for a fresh start in the department”.

Usher also lashed out at RESTORE Belize, saying that it got strangled in a web of committees and soon ran out of gas.

Party Leader Fonseca, who was the main speaker, opened the press conference describing the state of the nation.

“Our country is in crisis. Every objective observer and all the social economic data available points to a Belize that is headed in the wrong direction,” he said.

He pointed to the increase in the level of poverty, the stagnation of income and wages, and high rates of unemployment and under-employment.

He added, “Less than fifty percent of our children are completing secondary school. Oil revenues are on the decline. Foreign Direct Investment remain well below the level necessary for economic growth.

Fonseca also discussed the restructuring of the Super Bond, which he says “appears to have been stalled and increasingly  become a secret state operation, with little or no information available to the Belizean people.”

Fonseca said that to date the Finance Committee of the House of Representative has not been briefed as the Prime Minister promised.

He noted that the Citrus Industry is in crisis and that there has been a call for a protest and shut down. “The industry is mired in litigation.”

There are very serious concerns about the state of our health sector, he added before turning his attention to high crime rate.

“The blood of too many of our fellow citizens continue to flow on the streets of our towns and city,” he said.

Fonseca described the Ministry of National Security press release that followed the murder of businessman Alfred Shackron as “absolute nonsense.”

On the issue of the continuing incursion Guatemalan into Belizean territory, Fonseca said that where our Belize Defence Force has acted in self defence and in protection of our sovereignty, we must be clear in our support for them.

“And while we must be mindful of the human factor, Belizeans are justifiably concerned that this government has not been consistent and equitable with its compassion.”

Fonseca listed a number of Belizeans who have lost their lives at the hands of our security forces, who deserve compassion and compensation from the government.

On the issue of taking the Guatemalan claim to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) Fonseca said that the PUP will participate in the public education campaign starting in January 2013.

But even before that the PUP will carry out its own internal education campaign among party members and supporters.

He said that at the end of the public education campaign and their own campaign, the PUP’s National Executive and parliamentary caucus will meet to determine whether or not the party will endorse a “yes” or “no” vote or simple allow their members to vote their conscience.

Fonseca called on the government to carry out the re-registration exercise to clean up the voters list to ensure the reliability of the referendum vote in 2013.

He said that Belize could demonstrate its seriousness by using funds from the referendum process to clean the list so that there could be a free and fair referendum vote.

Fonseca said that the United Democratic Party (UDP) government of Prime Minister, Dean Barrow continues to undermine the duly elected PUP representatives in the various constituencies.

He warned that if the undermining does not stop, then it will place all other areas of cooperation between the government and the opposition in jeopardy.

“We will not continue to allow the government to be smiling while it is undermining the duly elected representatives  of the PUP.”

Dr. Marco Tulio Mendez, the Orange Walk East area representative, addressed the press conference on the issues affecting the health sector.

He said that our country is facing a very serious health crisis, because infant mortality has increased from seventeen to twenty-three per one thousand.

He said that there has been political interference at the Northern Regional Hospital that has resulted in serious consequences for maternal and new born cases.

In the last two months there has been ten cases of newborn with complications in the Northern Regional Hospital.

Punta Gorda has one ambulance, but it needs at least two. He also said that the National Health Insurance (NHI) needs to be rolled out to the entire country.

Immunization in the Cayo District is suffering from a lack of transportation.

“The report of the Auditor General found many irregularities when it comes to the procurement of pharmaceuticals,” he said.

Overall, he characterized Minister of Health Pablo Marin as incompetent.

The press conference was attended by all PUP parliamentarians, with the only absentee being the Cayo South representative, Julius Espat.

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