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Sep 19, 2023

What is the Hold Up With Oceana’s Petition?

Almost three months have passed since Oceana submitted twenty-two thousand signatures to the Governor General in Belmopan. The petition is to trigger a referendum before the moratorium on offshore drilling is ever lifted. By law, those signatures should have already been reviewed and either verified or denied. But, the matter is now with the Attorney General’s ministry which has written to Oceana stating the government’s position on signatures. It is not clear what G.O.B.’s position is, but back in August, Attorney General Anthony Sylvestre said elsewhere that the government is seeking legal advice. So, why is G.O.B. seeking legal advice when the AG is its chief legal officer and what really is the hold up?  Here is how AG Sylvestre responded to those questions from reporters.


Anthony Sylvestre

Anthony Sylvestre, Attorney General

“The government is not flouting the referendum law, yes so the Attorney General Ministry is the chief legal advisor, so the attorney general, I don’t sit and draft all opinions. So, within the ministry there are crowns who would research and advice on these matters. And if the advice is what, having regard to my own research, then base on that we provide the advice. But, let me say this, Oceana and the government we are in discussion.”



“But is there an evocation in the law that it allows you to seek legal counsel, those it say you have time to review by the government’s lawyer?”


Anthony Sylvester

“What I will say is this, lawyers for Oceana and the government, we are in discussion. We wouldn’t want to prejudice any discussion that is taking place, but I do believe that within the next week or so Cabinet, today would have been Cabinet, Cabinet is next week. I had a meeting with the lawyer for Oceana, Ms Jacqueline Marshaleck, Senior Counsel on Friday. We’ll receive some indication as it relates to a way forward, a proposal. That will be submitted for Cabinet, so next week we will be able to give some definitive answer as it relates to that.”



“But you guys are frustrating a democratic process.”


Anthony Sylvester

“No we are not, we are not, we are having a discussion, negotiations with Oceana.”



“But the law doesn’t make provision for that. Either you certify the signatures or you decertify them.”


Anthony Sylvester

“That is your interpretation and respectfully we disagree, the government disagrees.”

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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