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Feb 27, 2003

Barrow: constitution no bar to Williams candidacy

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On yesterday’s newscast, U.D.P. candidate in the Albert Division, Marilyn Williams admitted that in the course of becoming a U.S. citizen she had sworn allegiance to the United States of America. This, according to her opponents, makes her ineligible to run in the general elections under section fifty-eight of the Belize Constitution. Today, leader of the United Democratic Party, Dean Barrow, says not only is the timing of this attack on Williams way off, but that other sections of the constitution supersede section fifty-eight and make Williams fully qualified to run and serve. All in all, Barrow dismissed the whole affair as ridiculous political nonsense.

Dean Barrow, Party Leader, U.D.P.

“There is no force or power on earth that can derail Marilyn Williams’ candidacy; that’s number one. To put it very bluntly, even if they were anything to what the P.U.P. is saying, they have waited too long. Now, after Marilyn Williams is elected, of course she can be challenged then. As you know, any person who wins a seat can be challenged by way of an election petition. But if that were to happen and they would seek to use section fifty-eight of the constitution, they would fail. Two reasons, number one, section fifty-eight of the constitution is at the very least in conflict with section twenty-seven of the constitution. Section twenty-seven of the constitution was an amendment made under the U.D.P. in 1985 expressly to allow for dual citizenship. And we did this, it was at the instance of the late Philip Goldson, because they were so many Belizeans who had gone to the U.S., acquired U.S. nationality and whom the constitution then disqualified from having Belizean citizenship.”

“Section twenty-seven was passed in 1985, so that is what will prevail. In my view in any case, there is not any case there is no conflict. What section fifty-eight is talking about is if you are in the service of a foreign power and by virtue of that you swear an oath of allegiance, if you are in the diplomatic service of the U.S. or you’re a member of their C.I.A. or their F.B.I. But in any case it doesn’t matter.”

“Section sixty-three of the constitution says exactly what section fifty-eight says in relation though to Senators. How on earth has Marilyn Williams been able to serve as a Senator when the same disqualification, if it were valid, applies with respect to senators and the P.U.P.s did nothing for almost three years in terms of trying to challenge the validity of her appointment? It is because they know that it is all nonsense and it would not succeed and it would embarrass them terribly.”

Needless to say, that view is not shared by the People’s United Party. Today, the P.U.P.’s legal advisor, Eamon Courtenay, told News 5 that, one, Marilyn Williams was illegally and unconstitutionally appointed as Senator; two, her preset candidacy is unconstitutional and she is therefore ineligible to run, and three, the party is currently researching its legal case in the event they need to go to court. According to Courtenay, they will not file any suit prior to the election because it might be interpreted as a sign of political weakness. As for the legal merits of the case, Courtenay maintains that the constitution is absolutely clear. The problem, he says, is not dual nationality, but Williams’ declaration of allegiance to Uncle Sam.

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