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Feb 6, 2020

Attorney Explains Ashcroft’s Addition to Legal Challenge

Lord Michael Ashcroft

As we reported on Wednesday, Lord Michael Ashcroft has formally applied to join a lawsuit against the Government of Belize that was brought by the Belize Peace Movement.   Ashcroft’s application is to join the claimants as an interested party in a legal challenge that, once successful, would prompt government to conduct a redistricting exercise prior to the upcoming general elections.  The existing state of affairs after re-registration indicates a gaping disparity in the voter composition in all thirty-one constituencies and that disproportion can only be rectified via the re-districting exercise. In some constituencies, there are more than seven thousand electors while in others there are as few as two thousand plus. Stann Creek West has the largest number of voters, while Fort George in Belize City has the smallest number.  According to attorney Andrew Marshalleck, Ashcroft’s addition to the claim serves to bring more attention to the matter.

 

Andrew Marshalleck

Andrew Marshalleck, Attorney for Lord Michael Ashcroft

“Well first off, it brings all the news agencies around asking why is Lord Ashcroft getting involved?  The simple answer to that in the first instance is that it‘s to draw attention to the claim and to a problem that has long since existed that he doesn‘t believe is getting sufficient attention.  As to what he brings to the table, Lord Ashcroft brings a lot of resources, both in terms of legal expertise, demographers, political scientists who can inform and highlight what are some of the problems they‘re currently exposed.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Lord Ashcroft has been said to be a financier of both political parties.  Might this be seen by others as a way of perhaps him sticking it to the man, in a manner of speaking?”

 

Andrew Marshalleck

“Well, I am sure there will be many viewpoints on it, but at the end of the day, from my perspective, it doesn’t really matter.  What it is, is that there is a problem in that there’s significant mal apportionment between the electoral divisions, the result of which is to render the voting weight of each person in Belize most unequal.  For instance, the calculations show that a person in Fort George or in Queen Square has five times the voting weight of a person in, say, Stann Creek West and the constitution provides for the electoral divisions to be more or less equal.  The international standards is that it should be plus or minus ten percent.  We are so out of whack, I mean we have very small divisions and we have very large ones and the result of it is that those voting in the smaller divisions with the smaller numbers, their votes carry more weight in terms of electing the government.”


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