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ICJ Referendum To Be held Despite Controversy

ICJ Referendum To Be held Despite Controversy
May 03
11:05 2019

Thursday, May 2, 2019 –
The once delayed referendum on taking the Guatemalan territorial claim to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), will be held on Wednesday May 8, after the government flexed its majority to rush through a bill enabling them to do so. The Opposition, meanwhile, has moved to mobilize its supporters in anticipation of an election-type atmosphere on referendum day. The party also believes that its legal challenge could potentially overturn any vote in the nearing referendum.

And as time winds down for Belizeans pro, anti and uncertain on the issue; attorneys for the government and the People’s United Party remain locked in legal proceedings at both the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal. On Monday the government withdrew its application to lift the injunction previously granted by the Supreme Court causing the previously scheduled April 10 referendum to be postponed. Government attorney, Lisa Shoman, noted that the injunction granted by the Chief Justice was based on a previous writ of referendum no longer effective since the passing of the new referendum bill. She said lifting the injunction was a mere formality and withdrew the application to discharge the injunction as it was no longer necessary.

PUP attorney Eamon Courtenay objected on grounds that a related matter was still before the Court of Appeal. And while the referendum will indeed take place on May 8, Courtenay said the issue remains live in court as the substantive matter concerning the legality of the Special Agreement is yet to be heard. The PUP had filed an appeal to the Chief Justice’s ruling that the party did not present an arguable case with respect to the constitutionality of the Special Agreement. According to Courtenay, the government’s recent passing of the new referendum bill complicates matters even further as the appeal was filed before the passing of the bill which invokes the very Special Agreement at the center of the party’s challenge.

“There is no reason, no good reason, at least none has been articulated with the public, as to why we are going with this indecent haste. So, they can proceed with their referendum knowing full well that there is likelihood and a real likelihood that it will be declared null and void,” Courtenay told the media.

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