On Friday, March 11, 2022, non-governmental organizations in good standing convened to participate in the democratic election of its next representative in the Senate. Two candidates had offered themselves for the post: Dr. Sharmayne Saunders was nominated by the Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association and Haven House while Janelle Chanona was nominated by the National Garifuna Council, the Belize Tourism Industry Association and the Belize Audubon Society. Of the thirty-one votes cast, Chanona received 21 votes while Dr. Saunders received 10 votes. The election process and results were supervised and audited by Swift and Associates.
Chanona has been the country lead of Oceana in Belize since January 2014. The former journalist turned advocate today reiterated her patriotic commitment to the process of nation-building. “I commit to honoring the vote of confidence that I’ve received today through hard work and inclusive representation, shared Senator-elect Chanona. “The contributions of the NGO community to national development via multiple sectors is tremendous and their voices deserve to be amplified in the corridors of power in support of informed decision making and good governance.”
Chanona replaces Osmany Salas, who resigned at the end of February to pursue an appointment with the World Wildlife Fund. Salas had served as the NGO Senator since 2017, having been elected by the NGOs shortly after the commencement order for the 13th Senator was signed. Official swearing in to take place at the next sitting of the Senate.