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Jul 24, 2020

Disparity in Electoral Divisions Affects People in Real-Life Situations

Arthur Saldivar

The defendants, represented in court by Attorney Samantha Matute of the Attorney General’s Ministry, argued against the appointment of the expert witnesses since it has not been determined whether the mal-apportionment of the number of voters from one constituency to another undermines the Constitution of Belize.  But Arthur Saldivar, attorney for the claimants, explained in more tangible terms how the disparity in the number of registered voters in the various electoral divisions affects people in real-life situations.

 

Arthur Saldivar, Attorney for Belize Peace Movement

“When we look at this whole situation with the COVID-19 pandemic and how things were being distributed in terms of the pantry, it is one of the areas that situation can be brought home in a more tangible way. You would have found that in certain constituencies, it would have been easy for persons to come out to Salvation Army and get their pantry and go back home. But in places like Belmopan where people live so far apart or Stann Creek West, it was more challenging; in fact, many people were not impacted the way they should have been and suffered and are suffering right now. So in that regard, today’s application moves us forward in addressing this problem and I believe it is a victory for Belize and the democracy in Belize. The next step is for the order to be perfected allowing for the expert to be appointed. Then the expert is going to be engaged and given time to prepare his report. That report will be sufficiently detailed to enable us to have a full understanding of what the position is in terms of the extent to which the disparity in numbers in the constituencies impacts the democratic process in Belize. And that report is going to be tabled before the court and then the court will move from that position to engaging the case management conference and giving case management orders. Unless the government copitulates and says well we have been derelict in our duty and have been acting above the law in terms of this process and we want to make amends and atone.”

 

Bobby Lopez from the Belize Peace Movement says that he had written to the newly-elected U.D.P. Leader Patrick Faber as well as P.U.P. Leader John Briceño and the newly-appointed Chair of the Elections and Boundaries Commission, attorney Estevan Perera. In that correspondence, he reiterating the movement’s perspective on why a redistricting exercise is important before the general elections are held.  Lopez informed that only the P.U.P. Leader has responded thus far, supporting the notion of the exercise and pledging to do so if his party wins because “we are way too close to the elections to do it fairly.”


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