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Jan 19, 2017

Opposition Tries to Stop Senate Sitting for 13th Senator

Lee Mark Chang

The Senate held its first meeting for 2017 – but it almost didn’t proceed after a major monkey wrench was thrown into this morning’s meeting in Belmopan. Both the Referendum and N.G.O. Act were up for debate and passage and there was debate on those bills which will we bring to you later on. But the latter Bill is the focus of our top story. The Opposition had been insisting from last week that Senator elected from the N.G.O. community, Osmany Salas, should be allowed to take his seat notwithstanding that the Commencement Order for Sections Six and Eight of the Sixth Amendment to the Belize Constitution do not take effect until Friday.  They wanted to have him in place to participate in the debate, but Senate President Lee Mark Chang declined. That led to lead Opposition Senator Eamon Courtenay attempting to amend the usual motion from the Leader of Government Business, Godwin Hulse, that when the Senate ended today’s business it would adjourn to a date to be fixed by the President. After Courtenay’s motion, Chang tried to explain why he felt the N.G.O. Act needed to be debated so that Salas could take his seat.

 

Lee Mark Chang, President of the Senate

“Senator Courtenay, I think based on your email to me – you may sit, you may sit – I think we have already discussed this matter, and have already made a decision that the Senate’s Special Sitting today will proceed, and also just to note that I have discussed it with my colleagues and we need for the N.G.O. Act to pass so that Senator Salas can be sworn in tomorrow; if it is not passed today, Senator Salas will not be able to be sworn in tomorrow.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

Eamon Courtenay, P.U.P. Senator

“Mister President, with respect, first of all: I have moved an amendment to the motion and I am entitled to have that amendment voted on: first thing. The second thing: it is incorrect; it is legally false to say to the Senate that the amendment to the N.G.O. Act is required for the thirteenth Senator to take his seat. We can disagree of the legal interpretation of that; I insist on my motion being voted on.”

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