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Jan 31, 2012

Coalition won’t get Referendum with election

Dean Barrow

And though Treaty’s stock is sure to reflect the dismissal from the Belize government, another company was also trounced during this afternoon’s conference. The Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage, which has membership from every reputable environmental association and non-governmental organizations, has been at the forefront of preserving the environment from possible disasters resulting from the booming oil industry. The country, including protected areas and the sea has been parceled into blocks for exploration while lead NGO OCEANA Belize and its Vice President, Audrey Matura Shepherd has heralded the campaign to raise enough signatures to trigger a referendum. Barrow shot down any notion of the Referendum being bundled along with the double elections.

Dean Barrow

“My examination of the law tells me that it can’t. As far as I know, these signatures were obtained a long time ago. It appears that the decision not to present them to the chief elections officer for verification was taken so that the timing might allow for this referendum to occur on the same day as the municipal elections. From what I have seen, they got it wrong. The referendum petition, the list of signatures, was presented as I recall on the ninth of December—two months from that for the completion of the exercise would be the ninth of February. I think where the confusion arose—I may be wrong [as] I am not part of their councils; I am not privy to what informed their decision—but I suspect that because the law says after the verification, the Governor General has thirty days to issue the referendum writ, they thought somehow that would make it possible for the referendum writ to be issued for the seventh of March. What the law says is that the Governor General issues the referendum writ within thirty days and in that writ fixes the actual date of the referendum which can’t be before thirty days after the issue of the writ. So there is no way on earth if the Governor General is to follow the law—and we know that the Governor General will do that—that they can have the referendum on the seventh of March.”

We’ll have more on the last official press conference by Barrow as Prime Minister in Wednesday’s newscast.

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