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Oct 4, 2010

Senators debate recalling elected representatives

godwin hulse

When the Senate met last Friday in Belmopan, one of the Bills passed into law was the Bill to Recall Elected Representatives before their term expires. It allows voters within any constituency the opportunity to recall their elected representative if they feel he or she is not working in their best interests.  But while the Bill is one that Senators for the Opposition and the Business sector agree is a good one in principle, there was concern that the mechanism is flawed.

Godwin Hulse, Senator, Business Sector

“I applaud any change which will put some power back in the hands if the Belizean people and this seems to be doing that.  First of all thirty percent of the voters need to sign a petition.  I am always weary about that because any constituency, given the level of victimization and all the rest of things we have, you got to be pretty bold to put your name on a piece of paper to say I want a recall mechanism, I want a recall.  Let us say Mister President, sixty percent of the electorate votes, cause these are the people who want him out.  And let us say that of that sixty percent; fifty five percent says “Want him out!” You know what happens?  Even though a majority of the electors, which is the democracy, says yoh gone, ih seh yoh stay, Jack.  And then ih turn on the screws in that constituency because yoh can’t move him.  And those who signed the petition and otherwise will get the squeeze.  On the other hand, at the same time constituency A is running along happily and sixty five percent turnout and thirty two point five percent plus one says he goes, he gone.  So in one constituency a minority of electors has replaced the representative in one constituency, in another constituency the majority of electors fail to replace the representative. That is the flaw in the system.”

Eamon Courtenay, Senator PUP

eamon courtenay

“This Bill allows for the minority to have its way.  That strikes at the heart of the most fundamental principle in any democracy.  If somebody gets a petition signed by thirty percent of the registered electors and Mister X or Miss Y is the area representative for that division there is no provision in this law that entitles that person as of right to say I want to see the petition and I want to see the signatures on that petition.  There is nothing in this law that requires the Governor General or the Chief Elections Officer to make public the petition, nothing.  Nothing requires him to publish, make available publicly as a matter of law, not a matter of discretion, as a matter of law, who has signed the petition and for the political parties to verify that in truth and in fact, registered electors are the persons who have signed that petition.”

During his debate in the Senate, Courtenay said that because of the flaw is in violation of the Constitution of Belize.

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4 Responses for “Senators debate recalling elected representatives”

  1. GUINEA GRASS Observer says:

    First of all, I applaud the UDP for this initiative… BUT…BUT…BUT….

    I agree with both Senator…(i) a there should be a valid reason for the removal; (ii) the petition has to be made public; (iii) the Governor-General and Elections & Boundaries have to approve it and execute it; (iv) for it to be democratic, it has to be a minimum of 51% of the constituents to vote for the removal of minister; and, (v) only one minister can be removed in a grace period of 1 months, no more than one minister can be removed at the same time, but a grace period should be established

    this argument I posted in a previous news article, the UDP want to leave this flaws so that they can use it, since,they are certain that they will not win the other general election…

    they will want to remove a Minister with the same voters that voted for the UDP…

    for instance, in OW south, lets say that the PUP won by 52%, then that means that the UDP in OW south had, 48% of the votes,

    WOULD THE SAME UDP BE ABLE TO REMOVE THE ELECTED PUP MINISTER, SINCE IT ONLY REQUIRES 30 % OF THE CONSTITUENTS ???

    this can cause Chaos and even Coup d’état if the opposition political party organizes itself to remove more than “x” number of Ministers of different districts at the same time, since it only requires 30% of voters and it can be done without prior notice

    This bill certainly have to be reviewed to correct the flaws…. i call on the all senators, both PUP and UDP, not to vote on the interest of the political party, but on the Belizean Interest!

  2. rod says:

    ok channel 5 make this a petition how many people want judas barrow out of office i say iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii lets see how many belizeans cant take this judas traitor anymore .

  3. Islander says:

    I applaud this initiative BUT there is room for improvement. And by that I mean how about IMPEACHMENT of the prime minister? Not saying that the current one should be Impeached but saying that it should be in our laws so that no BDF colonel will ever have to do it Honduras style because we the citizens would be able to do it through the courts.

  4. Belizean Diaspora says:

    Ok, but what about the elected senate, if I remember correctly, the referendum that it was entailed in is legally binding, whatever political party is in power. Barrow and the UDP had 30 months to implement steps to allow the senate to become elected by the next general election. I could understand the viewpoint that it is a way that the Musa administration contrived of to stay in power, but regardless it is legally binding. It should be done smartly and timely. A simple way to rid the nation of corrupt politicians is to impeach them, not recall.

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