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Editorial – April 12th. 2019

Editorial – April 12th. 2019
April 12
11:05 2019

Plan B, the Prime Minister’s effort to rescue the April 10 referendum through the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals has failed, and the next step seems uncertain.

The Prime Minister could appeal to the Caribbean Court of Justice, where the matter would be sure to get a speedy hearing. But there would be no assurance of success there in overturning the CJ’s injunction.

The safest route is to correct the anomaly that caused the problem in the first place and request the Governor General to issue new, revised writs under the Referendum Act. But new writs would have to wait until the Chief Justice has completed his hearing of the injunction matter, which is still in progress.

There seems to be little doubt about the outcome, since the Chef Justice has already found precedents to show that a wrongly referenced writ can prove fatal to a referendum process such as this.

Given that scenario, it seems most likely that the deferred referendum will now be held in late May, perhaps early June.

The Leader of the Opposition, Mr. John Briceño, has said he wants the Barrow administration to consult with him and the opposition PUP to work out a bi-partisan approach to the Guatemalan problem. But he is unalterably opposed to having the referendum at this time, and also wants to avoid calling on the ICJ at this time.

The Prime Minister on the other hand has vowed to see the referendum through as soon as possible and to engage the support of the ICJ to settle the territorial dispute with Guatemala by arbitration once and for all time.

There has been no “give” on either side and there appears to be no room for maneuver. The battle lines have been drawn.

The PUP has chosen the battlefield and the weapon of war, eschewing the bipartisan foreign policy approach worked out years ago when Mr. Said Musa was Foreign Minister.

So the referendum will boil down to a contest of political wills and sadly, it is not going to be about what is best for Belize.

There is another big fight looming! But this time, the people of Belize will speak! And their voice will be heard around the world.

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