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May 28, 2001

Const. amendments will broaden representation

Last week we reported on Cabinet’s decision to finally stop the sale of passports. That policy change, to be carried out through an amendment to the constitution, is one of a number of constitutional alterations to be introduced at the next sitting of the House of Representatives. Among the more significant is the reorganisation of the Belize Advisory Council. Membership in this important body will consist of two senior members appointed on the advice of the Prime Minister, two by the Leader of the Opposition and three others on the advice of the Prime Minister after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition. Chairmanship of the Council would rotate annually between the four senior members.

The Senate will also come in for radical realignment, expanding from nine to sixteen with a number of members nominated by civil society. There will also be a more diverse geographic distribution of Senators.

The act of removing a Supreme Court Justice will also be changed to take the Governor General out of the initiating end of the process and placing him in a confirming role. Complaints about a justice will go to the Judicial and Legal Services Commission, which can then forward its recommendation directly to the Belize Advisory Council. Once proposed in the House, amendments to the constitution must wait at least three months before final passage.

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