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Apr 12, 2019

Parliamentarians Debate Barrow’s New Super Referendum Bill

The Belize Territorial Dispute Referendum Bill, 2019 was described as a kneejerk reaction by the Opposition to two separate court rulings in a week. The P.U.P. pointed out that the new bill would not have come to the House if the Special Agreement was debated prior to it being signed back in 2008.  But the government maintains that the Opposition only wants to disrupt the referendum. Here’s Hipolito Novelo.

 

Hipolito Novelo, Reporting

At the heart of the new bill and central to today’s debate was the Special Agreement. In the special agreement, both countries agreed that a referendum would take place within their respective borders in order for the electorate to decide whether the dispute will be submitted to the International Court of Justice.

 

Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“That Special Agreement has not changed since its negotiation in any substance and that special agreement was drafted and approve by the People’s United Party and a battery of international legal experts fully supported by the U.D.P. in discharge of our duty to act in consort with you when the national interest requires but it was only formally singed Madam Speaker in 2008 after the U.D.P. had become government. But what was such a glorious achievement design to put an end to all our difficulties when they negotiated now all of a sudden begins to spell disaster and devastation now that the U.D.P. is seeking to implement by giving the people their referendum. It is a Judas like betrayal for the ages. I shudder at how history will judge them and that the rank odor in which that even now they are being held by Belizeans.”

 

And now the Opposition People’s United Party is demanding that the Government bring the Special Agreement to the house for debate, ‘improvement’ and removal of any doubt that the agreement is unconstitutional.

 

John Briceño

John Briceño, Leader of the Opposition

“Because once it is accepted by parliamentarian then we can’t pull back, Madam Speaker. But if we go to the I.C.J. and for some reason the I.C.J. decides that we have to amend our boundaries, God forbid for that to ever happen, which member of the House of parliament will get up and agree to take off any piece of land from Belize, Madam Speaker? We in the People’s United Party have been very, very clear, that we are going to defend every single square centimeter of this country.”

 

PM Barrow is far from convinced. He says that the P.U.P. is purposely trying to ‘derail’ the referendum and deny the people their right.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“They do every single thing, they make every final effort to derail what is happening, to be obstructionist and ultimately not just to delay the implementation of the Special Agreement by way of the referendum but to deny the Special Agreement, to deny the referendum, to stop the people of Belize from excising their vote. And I am charging them centrally today for wanting not just to delay the referendum but to deny the referendum. They want to achieve their no vote, not by persuading people at the polls to vote no but by depriving people the opportunity to go to referendum because that is the surest way of getting to a no position. That is what they are trying to do. It was always agreed that the I.C.J. route was the best way out of our aged old difficulty. Depending on the people of Belize, always and forever the people of Belize they have to be the ones to decide but for God’s Sake let them decide. Stop trying to derail the referendum.”

 

Briceño says that what his party is trying to do is help the government get it right.

 

John Briceño

“And now they want to accuse of wanting to stop the referendum. We want to ensure that we get it right because gentlemen, ladies because after the referendum somebody is going to take us to court and who knows we have to do the referendum all over again. We are doing you a favor, Mr. Prime Minister. Work with us. Let us get it correct.”

 

The bill, says the Prime Minister, will fix the public ‘backlash’ caused by the P.U.P.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“We are here today to fix that. This bill is designed to ensure that the people of this country must, the people of country will have their referendum.”

 

Hipolito Novelo, News Five.


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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