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Aug 23, 2011

Opposition says refurbished 9th still allows for Parliamentary Supremacy

John Briceño

This Wednesday, the second round of consultations on the Ninth Amendment Bill will take place in Corozal. At the same time the Belize Teachers Union will be meeting in the nation’s capital also on the ninth. The two events will provide a sense of what the pulse of the people is to the amended Ninth.  On Monday, Prime Minister Dean Barrow, under pressure from various sectors, and after discussions with the Belize Council of Churches and the Evangelical Council of Churches, agreed to “trim” parts of the proposed ninth amendment by striking out specific language as it pertains to the exclusion of the court from examining future constitutional legislation. Government’s release did not provide any meat to the specific language that was removed, but the Council of Churches said it reached agreement to withdraw the offensive sections that barred the court from reviewing constitutional claims.  In some quarters, however, there is unease that government still retains the ability to amend parts of the constitution, without the possibility of legal challenge, as long as it has the required three-quarters majority.  This morning Opposition Leader John Briceño weighed in his position on the matter by describing the withdrawal as merely a cosmetic change that would still allow for parliamentary supremacy over the constitution.

John Briceño, Party Leader, P.U.P.

“In the changes that they are talking about, as it is they are saying that they are removing certain sections but in the press [release] the prime minister is saying that they are going to probably make some other additions that we have not seen.  And if that is going to be the case I think that there needs to be a reset of the button.  The ninety-day process, since you are going to be changing what you are proposing, you have proposed July 24th I think it was and now you’re going to be changing the bill that you are going to be presenting to the Belizean public.  I believe that we need to start the countdown to ninety days all over again. At this point we don’t exactly what is going to end up in the bill.  He has said that we are going to remove certain, the sections that Belizeans found offensive but then he, if you noticed in his press release he was very clever in using the English language because he said, if you look on the third to last paragraph he is saying that the church leaders were convinced that the agreed trimming of the language.  So yo di trim the language but we don’t know what is going to be [in its place] what you’re going to be replacing that trimming.  And also the last sentence in his press release and I quote, he said, “It also reiterates that additional changes to further safeguard the bill may still be made depending on the outcome of the consultation process.”  We don’t know what that’s going to be so that the prime minister now, when the ninety days is over and we go for the second reading, can bring in new provisions into the bill, things that we have not had a chance to really study and consult and be at a major disadvantage in the whole discussion; not only us as parliamentarians but even the citizens of this country.

There’s this general feeling that the people don’t trust the government.  They don’t believe them that they are going to [do as they] say they are going to do.  Why do we say that?  [Well] simply because if the prime minister was serious about nationalizing any public utility or nationalizing any company or land or whatever it is that it is already enshrined in the constitution on Section 17 whereby all the prime minister had to do was to follow the process and it is obvious that he did not follow the process and now he has boxed himself in a corner.  And now in attempting to solve that problem he is now using a sledgehammer because then it’s going directly at some of the basic rights and principles and freedoms of the Belizean citizen. Basically what is happening is that parliament is still going to be supreme over the constitution.  There’s still going to be supremacy over the constitution when you look at keeping Section 2 and the section that was removed from Section 69:9.”

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7 Responses for “Opposition says refurbished 9th still allows for Parliamentary Supremacy”

  1. Linda says:

    I totally agree with the leader of opposition. I have completely lost trust in the Prime Minister. It’s obvious that it is not a matter of public utility ownership but of gaining power. I just want the 9th amendment to be passed in any form since it presents danger since word tactics will be used. It is highly unethical what the PM is doing. The example he is demonstrating is a disgrace to us.

  2. Linda says:

    No to any form of the 9th amendment. Word tactics can be used.

  3. NoNo says:

    The 9th amendment should not be passed PERIOD!!! why should we give barrow more power over us? Dean u knw u wont be in for another term as pm, so u wana take n do all u can now to screw this country. and unfortunately some foolish people are on ur side.

  4. CEO says:

    Parliament should never have supremacy over the courts. This is a receipt for disaster! The PM is learned so why is he behaving like a dictator?

  5. Elgin Martinez says:

    Why should Barrow worry about what he’s doing to this country when he has no intention of living in Belize.Wake up Belize.

  6. Diehard Belizean says:

    When in many countries the people are rebelling against dictators, here in Belize a budding dictator is in the making. Listen, Belizeans, this is how dictatorships have begun in many countries. Those leaders spout a lot of confusing messages to the people who believe them too quickly because they think that these politicians are honest, truthful and want the best for the people.

    They use words such as “nationalism”, “working for the people”, “in your best interest”, “for the betterment of the country”, “this is for the Belizean people”, and so on. And there you go, clapping for them and say,”Ya , dis da fu wi.”

    Check out BTL, BEL, etc. Are they yours? What role do you play there. Just because Barrow is using your Social Security monies you think these companies are for us. Get real!!

    what is happening is that we are being laughed at in the international community, trust by foreign investors to come and place their monies here is very low… there is an international very low confidence in barrow and this UDP government. Man, go to the web and read what people think about this government. Have you read what the editorial of the Jamaica Gleaner has said? No… well google it and get informed.

    But watch out in 2012. It may get very serious with this government. All of us have to oppose this 9 Amendment. It is frightening. Man read it… get someone to explain it to you. Go to the consultations… even though Barrow has said that ultimately his government doesn’t have to listen to the people. Man.. he is really putting our country in a dangerous path.

    Long live Belize!

  7. Storm says:

    I personally don’t support UDP or PUP. I try to find a good candidate from whatever party, and go with him/her.

    But this I know — there is NO MORTAL MAN I trust with “parliamentary supremacy.” That’s what Adolf Hitler rode to his hellish dictatorship and near-destruction of his entire country.

    Tyranny of the majority is just that — TYRANNY.

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