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Dec 12, 2016

Road to Amendment of Referendum Act Begins

Patrick Faber

A simultaneous referendum on taking the unfounded Guatemalan claim to Belizean territory to the International Court of Justice in 2013 was scrapped back then. This came after then-Guatemalan president, Otto Perez Molina, complained that our threshold for validation, sixty percent, puts Guatemala at a disadvantage. Unlike Belize, Guatemala allows a simple majority of fifty percent plus one. Since then, the two countries have danced around Belize changing its Act to comply with Guatemala’s. After initially refusing outright, Belize has come around to the Guatemalan position, which Acting Prime Minister Patrick Faber described as “best practice” around the world when he introduced the formal amendment at Friday’s House sitting.


Patrick Faber, Acting Prime Minister

“Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the Referendum Act, Chapter ten of the Substantive Laws of Belize, Revised Edition 2011, to make provision, in accordance with the international best practice, for the holding of a referendum to be validated only by the satisfaction of voting thereon by a simple majority of votes cast and without regard to the number of registered electors casting votes, and to provide for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. Mr. Speaker, this Bill has the recommendation of the Cabinet, but just by way of explanation, the Referendum Act as it stands now, Mr. Speaker, requires that the voter turnout be at least sixty percent of the registered voters, Mr. Speaker, and so that does not fit well with what is acceptable internationally, Mr. Speaker, and so we are making this move in order to be able to better fit into what is accepted internationally, Mr. Speaker, and that is why we present it.”


Michael Peyrefitte, Speaker of the House

“Honorable Members, that Bill is referred to the Constitution and Foreign Affairs Committee for examination, consideration, and report.”


The amendment is in committee and it is not clear if any public hearings will take place.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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