Representatives of Belize’s non-governmental organizations (NGOs) met on Wednesday, November 9, 2016 at the George Price Center for Peace and Development in Belmopan to define the process to be followed to elect Belize’s 13th Senator.
Of the 143 NGOs registered under the NGO Act, twenty-two have thus far been deemed to be in good standing under the law. The NGOs in good standing represented at the meeting have committed to ensuring that the way forward is as inclusive as possible.
Within that context, among the decisions made was the election of a Steering Committee that will facilitate the process for the 13th Senator. That Steering Committee is comprised as follows: Janelle Chanona (Oceana Belize) as Chairman, Osmany Salas (Belize Tourism Industry Association) as Vice Chairman, Amanda Acosta (Belize Audubon Society) as Secretary, Armando Aban (The Scout Association of Belize) as Treasurer, and Froyla Tzalam (Sarstoon Temash Institute of Indigenous Management) as Media Relations Officer.
One of the first mandates of the Steering Committee is to ensure that as many NGOs working in Belize are deemed in good standing under the NGO Act to allow for their participation in the selection of the 13th Senator. In this regard, it was agreed that the deadline for registered NGOs to comply with the requirements of the NGO Act and be deemed in good standing under that Act in order to participate in the selection of the 13th Senator is December 16, 2016. NGOs are strongly urged to contact the Attorney General’s Ministry to identify the reason(s) their organization is not currently listed as being in good standing. They are also encouraged to contact the members of the Steering Committee.
During the meeting, an initial list of criteria for the Senator that would represent the NGO Community was also drafted. That list includes the following:
a. Must be a Belizean; must not have allegiance to another country; must have resided in Belize for at least one year;
b. Must be a member from an NGO in good standing; as in Board Member, Executive Director, employee or member of an NGO in good standing;
c. Must present a letter of endorsement from their organization;
d. Must have three plus years working with an NGO(s) in Belize;
e. Prior knowledge of legislative, constitutional issues as well as matters affecting NGOs would be an asset;
f. Must possess excellent communication skills, both written and oral;
g. Must be non-partisan: must not have been a candidate for a political party; nor have an executive post within any political party; nor be a partisan political activist overtly involved in getting a party/candidate elected.
h. Must comply with all Constitutional requirements for becoming a member of the National Assembly.
The Steering Committee will obtain the list of NGOs in good standing from the Attorney General’s Ministry on December 19, 2016. The deadline to present nominations for the 13th Senator is January 3rd, 2017. The date to elect the Senator has been scheduled for January 10, 2017. The name of the 13th Senator nominee will be submitted to the Governor General on or before January 17, 2017.