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Nov 4, 2011

OCEANA challenges P.M. on referendum

At the Prime Minister’s Quarterly Press Conference, PM Barrow was asked about the status of the offshore drilling. On Thursday night we aired his response, in which he replied that Coalition to Save our Natural Heritage, under which OCEANA falls, hasn’t been able to maintain their end of the deal. According to the PM, the environmentalists have long passed the three to six months period, after collecting their signatures and have thus, overlooked the final act to trigger the referendum. Today Oceana’s VP, Audrey Matura Shepherd says that nowhere in the law states a time period, furthermore, she says PM Barrow has over time been very deceitful.

Audrey Matura Shepherd, Vice-President, OCEANA

Audrey Matura Shepherd

“The section of the law we’re using under the Referendum Act, it has nothing to do with the Prime Minister. He cannot give us time or take away times from us. If the Prime Minister really wanted to hold a referendum, Andrea you could look at the amendment that they made in 2008, the twenty-fifth of April it was presented in the house. And in it, there were two ways you can have a referendum, the National Assembly by Section two paragraph A, could’ve then on its own pass a resolution declaring that a certain issue is of or matter is of sufficient national importance that it should be submitted to the electors for their view through a referendum. And the law clearly doesn’t stipulate when we could start, how long we have to take to get these signatures and how shortly after we have to hand it in but the law does stipulate that when we hand it in to the Governor General, then the GG has to give it to the elections and boundaries office which has about two months to vet it and after they have given their okay within thirty days the G.G. has to call a referendum election. The law is clear on timing.

Yes we’ve looked at what has been said on the referendum. We’ve seen the Prime Minister move back and forth. And I think what made us consider how to move forward was the statement the Prime Minister made in his report in May of this year where he said that the government of Belize does not agree with what we are asking for—a band of offshore drilling. We’re not saying there shouldn’t be drilling anywhere. We are saying our offshore, our waters, and our reef areas, our atolls are too precious —let’s not drill there. and we are also asking that they do not drill in our national parks; the protected areas on land which are our watersheds. The Prime Minister made it clear in his report that he does not agree with that position and that his government will go ahead to put in their safeguards. But it didn’t stop there, he went a step forward—and this is the duplicity of this Prime Minister—and using his words that he likes to use, I think he is disingenuous because hear what he says in the Prime Minister’s Report: when that referendum does come I will ask you to support the government’s position and that you are to not vote for what we want. He even went a step further and said he will tell his supporters not to come out on referendum day. Can you imagine that? So people were saying so does that mean if we come out on referendum day that he will assume that we are not his supporters and we will lose our jobs and contracts and stuff like that. So amidst all of that discussion the ninth amendment came and we gave priority to that for the debate to occur and maybe one of the best thing that happened is that we saw really where the Prime Minister stands when it comes to an issue of a referendum and Friends of Belize was the real true test case. Mind you, he did say earlier that he will give us three months and that’s what you said he said. But like I said, it’s not his prerogative; it’s not his discretion. When you are elected as Prime Minister, you don’t become God.”

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6 Responses for “OCEANA challenges P.M. on referendum”

  1. BELIZE first. says:

    dean barrow is a dictator,but the people have the power……..and he will get the sence comes election time.and if he come and offer us money mek we take it its OUR MONEY, our tax $$$$$$$$$ that they are spending .and give them a kik in their but and haal uno !@$$$$.

  2. LOL says:

    if freinds of belize can do it in 1 month then something is wrong with this months Oceana has been trying to get theirs off the ground. How long must this hang over people? audrey is the next schakron-she just sees media and wants to star-why doesnt she run for office and then make change rather than throwing useless multiple words from outside the ring all day?

  3. veteran says:

    Its time for belizeans to understand,that belize is under the control of two lawfirms,the pup and udp lawfirm,can someone be educated,and yet be a criminal?much worst,a invisible criminal?thats exactly what the pup and udp members ares,crooks with a law degree,nothing will change,not unless belizean do what the middle east countries have done,fight against corrupted politicians.

  4. Charlie Price says:

    OCCUPY ALBERT STREET………

  5. Iniate says:

    Audrey, you are speaking as if the majority of the country is on your side (already) and also as if the Prime Minister is your big opponent – BOTH OF THOSE APPROACHES ARE FAULTY IN NATURE.

    Are you listening? Can you hear me, Audrey? Or am I drowned out in the cloud of your quarreling noise?

  6. Concerned says:

    Its not worth attacking Audrey! The issue is Referendum and referendum refelcts tru democracy! Why is it that this Governmet is so afraid of taking national issues to a referendum? They say they are there to serve the people but how do they know what the people want if they are not opened to listen to them! So what if Audrey has a motive wanting to run for electoral office, she is not attacking the Government bogus-ly. She is speaking the truth and expressing the views of many. She wud make a better politician. Anyway am not here to talk about Audrey’s political capabilities. We need to open our eyes and face reality. We need not be puppets and listen and belive and follow what the government of the day says, we must sleep with our own eyes and think with our own minds.

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