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Oct 4, 2011

P.U.P. Western Caucus won’t be at 9th Consultation

The hearings on the controversial ninth amendment wind up in Belmopan on Wednesday. Hundreds of U.D.P. supporters are being bused in for the occasion, but the People’s United Party western caucus says it won’t be in the mix. According to P.U.P. aspirant, Julius Espat, the consultations have become a political circus so he is promoting a referendum to read the people’s will on the proposed change to the constitution. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The final leg of countrywide Ninth Amendment consultations will be held at the Belmopan City Center on Wednesday.  What should have been a series of meaningful discussions on the potentially far-reaching consequence of the proposed legislation have instead been widely criticized as nothing more than a traveling circus, complete with hired political jesters.  Since the public meetings began on August tenth both major parties have willfully engaged in a proverbial popularity contest, drawing legions of supporters to agree with or object to the passage of the bill.  The grand finale scheduled for Wednesday will be avoided by the opposition.

Julius Espat, P.U.P. Standard Bearer, Cayo South

“A decision was made due to the consultation process [and] the way its going on right now.  We think that its undermining democracy and the democratic process.  Our people are telling us on the ground that they are not happy with how it has gone.  It is not what consultation is all about and we feel that there are better ways and better tools to be able to hear from the people and thats one of the reasons that we are not participating and you could call it boycotting tomorrows meeting or consultation.”

Julius Espat

Almost two months later the People’s United Party, more specifically its Western Caucus, has decided that it will shun tomorrow’s gathering.  According to Julius Espat, a political hopeful running in the Cayo South constituency, participation in the consultation process was based on the idea that it would truly reflect the people’s thoughts on the proposed bill.

Julius Espat

“Well when the government comes out and says they want to do true consultation we as the opposition party welcome that and we participated initially because we thought that was what the intent was, but as the process continued it showed us exactly where it wasnt that and it was going in more a political way.  What we have done is we are doing a consultation on the ground and we are asking our people to sign a petition for a referendum because if the United Democratic Partys position is yes to nine and the Peoples United Partys position is no to nine and we are still having bantering with that situation [then] we are saying let the people decide.  This is about Belize, it is about their future so they should have the right to decide and not follow what is happening right now because in reality it has become a circus and we dont want to be a part of a circus.”

Tanya Usher

Instead of the usual political road show a different approach is currently being employed. Organized by Friends of Belize, a charge is being led to garner signatures from at least ten percent of the electorate.

Tanya Usher, Executive Director, Friends of Belize [File: September 12, 2011]

“Our fear is that this Ninth Amendment is not only negatively affecting Belizes reputation as a stable democratic country where the rule of law is respected; but will also negatively impact our ability to promote investment, to promote growth and to promote development  for the long term.  We have launched a petition to trigger a referendum on the Ninth Amendment Bill. Our goal is to collect ten percent of the signatures of the registered voters; thats whats needed to have the bill taken to a referendum. So were having our volunteers working all the districts to get the signaturesthey must be registered votersfor those who would like the ninth amendment bill to be taken to a referendum.”

Espat has now joined that burgeoning number of concerned Belizeans advocating for a referendum on the issue of the controversial Ninth Amendment.

Julius Espat

“We have done a different numbers issue, by being on the ground consulting with our people Cayo South alone as acquired one thousand, six hundred signatures as we speak and if you put in tomorrow and Friday we will be over two thousand signatures from the voters of Cayo South that are saying they want a referendum.  If the government truly believes in numbers then we will give them the numbers.  It is not about three hundred and fifty or two hundred and fifty, it will be in the thousands.  We will give them more than eighteen thousand signatures and that is what we are saying.  That is true consultation.”

Others will argue that a decision by the P.U.P. to circumvent the last forum may be too little too late, in light of government’s adamancy to proceed with the passage of the bill, but only time will tell whether Espat can make good on his promise. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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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2 Responses for “P.U.P. Western Caucus won’t be at 9th Consultation”

  1. Belizean Diaspora says:

    It is obvious that the People’s United Party is not the opposition, but a rubber stamp in our country, they should realize that they need to oppose this amendment in anyway possible, even if they are subjected to the circus that GoB is putting on. There is no democracy in our country without healthy debate or dissent. Belize is lacking this critically.

  2. sugaboy says:

    Wat is happening to the opposition shouldnt they fight back! why find the sorry excuse of political circus. Put the facts right and let the people speak. Or is it because the party is broke! Its speaks little of the vision that this party has!

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