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Dec 22, 2017

Are Countries Ready for 2018-19 Referenda?

2017 is almost over and it was a big year news-wise. But 2018 is expected to be even bigger, as the question Belizeans and Guatemalans have been waiting for decades to answer will be asked separately. That question  is: “Do you agree that any legal claim by Guatemala against Belize on continental inland territories and any maritime areas corresponding to those territories be submitted to the International Court of Justice for final determination and that it determines the boundaries of the respective territories and areas of the parties?”  As we have been reporting, Guatemala goes to the polls first on April fifteenth, with Belizeans to follow later in the year or possibly early 2019. But after multiple date changes, Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilfred Elrington cautioned Belizeans that it’s not over till it’s over.

 

Wilfred Elrington

Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs

“She inquired about the time table for our own referendum. I explained to her that we are constitutionally required to have re-registration, next year. And of course, we had given an undertaking to the Opposition that we would do that. And then, we are constitutionally required to have the elections, the municipal elections, and then we have a requirement, under the law, to do [re]-registration. So, I told her that we have to get those done before we would be able to go into our referendum, and because of those things, we did not see it possible for us to do so before the last quarter of 2018 and maybe the first quarter of 2019. But, I gave her the assurance that in fact, we were serious about moving ahead with it.”

 

Reporter

“Is it – I don’t want to say set in stone – it is fairly certain that April next year, their referendum should take place?”

 

Wilfred Elrington

“That’s the information that we now have. There is a suggestion that given the past performance of the Guatemalan government, anything can happen, but all indications we now have is that it is going to be for April. But Guatemala is a difficult country. They have all kinds of internal problems, and of course, they have a much greater financial obligation, and financial outlay in attempting to educate their own people on this issue. And Guatemalan resources are very limited, even more limited perhaps than ours, so, it’s going to be challenging for them to be able to conduct the kind of effective education within the timeline that they have. So, but we want to be optimistic.”

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