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Feb 19, 2010

Sparks fly over lawyer’s appointment as attorney general

Wilfred Elrington

Wilfred Elrington

Last year the government introduced the Belize Constitution (Seventh Amendment) Bill and held consultations nationwide. The Bill came under fire from the public which has caused the government to abandon one of the proposed changes, the election of persons to government with dual citizenship. In the House today, the Bill went through its third reading and there was still objection to the issue of the appointment of the attorney general, who now does not have to be an elected member of the House.  One of the PUP’s deputy leaders, Mark Espat, said the Bill is creating a special privilege for lawyers who will no longer need to go through the electoral process.

Mark Espat, Deputy Leader, PUP

Mark Espat

Mark Espat

“It is now being proposed that a member of the club chosen to be AG will not even have to sit in the Senate and suffer the inconvenience of meeting once every three months for a couple of hours. What makes the members of this club so special, so unique, so superior to the rest of us ordinary citizens? In a multicultural democracy, there is no place for superiority of one profession over the other. This amendment is another plum to a special interest group that will, in my view, widen the divide between the people of this country and those who accept public office to serve the people’s interest. If a minister, any minister, is not subject to election by the people as should be the absolute norm or in the exceptional case, appointed to the senate, this creates a dangerous double standard as it were a triple standard. One set of rules for members of the club, another set of rules for elected representatives and yet another for minister from the senate. Instead of widening it further, this loophole for the Attorney General’s appointment, the government should instead focus its efforts on rules for members of the club. This amendment from a lawyer PM for the appointment of a lawyer minister is viewed by the public as corrosive and conspiratorial. It was Emerson I believe who quipped that quote “the wise know that foolish legislation is a rope of sand which perishes in the twisting”. I oppose this amendment Mr. Speaker, for it has no home in our constitution.”

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

Dean Barrow

Dean Barrow

“He went on a tier against lawyers. It was okay when, in the course of the presentation, he took a dig here, he took a dig there. But it was more than a rift; it was an extended dilation and in a very negative fashion against lawyers as members of what he called denigratingly, this club. I am no psychologist or psychiatrist, but I’m wondering what it is that the member has against lawyers. I was disturbed by this extended treatment with respect to the member splaying against lawyers and it wasn’t redeemed by the butt kissing he did with respect to your good self. I found that meretricious and in fact if I were to dissect it too closely with respect to how far he went, I think I would have to become scatological. Let me leave that alone. We can say with respect to the attorney general that he has to be a lawyer because he is the Attorney General. The constitution as it now is requires that he be a lawyer.”

Wilfred ‘Sedi’ Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs

“I can tell you that it is not possible for one person to do a good job as attorney general, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Foreign Trade. You have to be a kind of superman to discharge all those responsibilities. Also too, it is not all attorneys don’t have the same capabilities and capacities. Former leader of opposition and the representative from Fort George will readily tell you that really and truly it’s only about two point three percent of all attorneys who are really good, who are really exceptional, who are really capable of in fact doing a good job to their clients.”

Said Musa

Said Musa

Said Musa, Fort George Area Rep.

“No person shall be qualified to hold the office of AG unless he is a person who has at least five years practice in a commonwealth or Irish jurisdiction. So if they’re not changing the qualification of an attorney general, as the member for Albert was saying a while ago, it has to be a lawyer with five years standing and if we have a system in place where the prime minister has the option of choosing of someone from outside just put him in the senate, one of five, why is there a necessity to go outside? Now you might say well why not? Well, I would say why not just what the member for Albert is saying – because we are changing the system, the Parliamentary system of democracy when we do this.”

Part of the Bill which also got House approval, was the removal of the Privy Council as the final court of appeal for Belize and to replace it with the Caribbean court of Justice.

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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1 Response for “Sparks fly over lawyer’s appointment as attorney general”

  1. jg says:

    Here is where t he MASTER MINDS of both parties meet,the belize national assembly,this place is the playground of the masterminds,where they introduced their master plans,on how to suck the best juice out of thier plans,not for the good of the country,but for the good of them,thier families.

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