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Apr 12, 2019

PM Barrow Introduces New Referendum Bill

A new referendum bill was introduced and taken through all its three stages in the House of Representatives.  The special sitting started after ten this morning and continued well into the evening. Debate was robust, at times emotional and even produced an abstention from former prime minister Said Musa, an individual rare vote hardly taken in the House. The referendum bill is government’s response to an interim injunction imposed by the Chief Justice last Wednesday.  The Bill calls for the holding of a referendum to determine whether any legal claim by Guatemala on land, insular territories and maritime areas should be taken to the I.C.J. for final settlement and allows the court to determine the boundaries of Belize. Hipolito Novelo sets out the introduction of the new referendum bill.

 

Hipolito Novelo, Reporting

Prime Minister Dean Barrow first introduced the government’s super bill, the Belize Territorial Dispute Referendum Bill 2019.

 

Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“I rise to introduce a bill for an act to provide for a referendum to determine whether any legal claim of Guatemala against Belize relating to land and insular territories and to any maritime areas pertaining to these territories should be submitted to the International Court of Justice for final settlement and for the International Court of Justice to determine finally the boundaries of the respective territories and areas of Belize and Guatemala; and to provide for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. Madam Speaker this bill has the recommendation of the Cabinet.”

 

The Prime Minister’s move to have the bill go through all the three stages prompted the Opposition Leader to immediately protest.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“I move that the bill be taken through all the stages forthwith.”

 

John Briceño

John Briceño, Leader of the Opposition

“I just want to record this side’s objection for the bill to be run through all three stages this morning. Unless the Prime Minister plans to hold the referendum in the next twenty days there is absolutely no urgency to pass this today.”

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“But that is a fine sentiment coming from people who after crafting the Special Agreement, agreeing to its ratification, supporting and promoting it for all these years waited until the last moment before the referendum under their Special Agreement was to be held to go to court. They should not be talking about time.”

 

With that sparks flew.

 

John Briceño

“Madam Speaker I absolutely need to correct that because if the Prime Minister was to say the truth, why is it that he has not brought the Special Agreement for us to have a debate  on the document, That is what we need to do in the House, Madam Speaker.”

 

And the Madam Speaker, Laura Tucker Longsworth then posed the very important question.

 

Laura Tucker Longworth

Laura Tucker Longworth, Speaker of the House of Representatives

“Honorable members the question is that the next stages of the bill be taken forthwith, All those in favor kindly say aye.  Those against kindly say no. The ayes have it.”

 

Hipolito Novelo, News Five

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