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Jan 19, 2017

The Debate Over Referendum Act Continues

Eamon Courtenay

If debate of the amendment to the Referendum Act at Friday’s meeting of the House of Representatives was raw and passionate, the usually genteel Senate was only slightly less so. After all, the future of the nation is at stake, as both Belize and Guatemala prepare for a suddenly looming referendum on taking the claim to the International Court of Justice if both countries agree. While the P.U.P., represented by Eamon Courtenay, is clear that the decision is up to the people, today’s debate showed that some have already made up their minds.

 

Eamon Courtenay, P.U.P. Senator

“You listen repeatedly to the Honorable Minister of Foreign Affairs, and you get the impression that this is a done deal. It is not a done deal. The People’s United Party has made it abundantly clear that it is the people of Belize who should decide whether the matter is to be submitted to the International Court of Justice.”

 

Mark Lizarraga

Mark Lizarraga, Business Senator

“After all that I have read and seen and heard, I too believe that that is the only way for us to move ahead on this issue. I strongly believe – that’s my personal view – I strongly believe that we need to go to the I.C.J.  But at the end of the day, I am happy with the process, that it is the people of Belize who decide whether we go or not. But we all have a responsibility to display leadership in this matter, and I think that certainly we have to pay a lot of attention to the education that is needed, the information that we need to share with the citizenry of this country in an organized and structured way, and in a unified way.”

 

Michael Peyrefitte

Michael Peyrefitte, U.D.P. Senator

“All this amendment is asking is whether or not we want it easier for the Belizean people to say yes or no. that’s it. That’s all we’re asking. And I hear my friend Senator Duncan say that a lot of the discussion is periphery; I would want to take it one step further, Mr. President, and say that a lot of it is grandstanding, because first of all, we don’t know what is the real position of some people and some organizations.”

 

The Act was passed without alteration for its second and third readings.

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