Friday, May 15, 2015. Aaron Humes Reporting: Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilfred Elrington has consistently advocating a cautious approach to resolving the unfounded claim on Belize by Guatemala.
And his announcement this week that he plans to travel to Guatemala City in a few weeks to sign an amendment to the compromis or Special Agreement to allow Guatemala to host a separate referendum on taking the dispute to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Netherlands has raised the hackles of a number of anti-ICJ activists, including Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA).
Today COLA said it scowled on the Minister’s comments, including his assertion that quote “It is not our obligation to go back to the public every time we are taking an action.” But COLA believes that both countries should hold their referenda together despite their dislike for the agreement, and it suggests that the Minister is “clearly psychologically affected, either by his ego or by some sort of academic leaning.” COLA argues that the Government, including Elrington, are compromised and “offend the Belizean populace” with “vile and obscene” statements.
It says the Prime Minister should receive the most stringent condemnation for, quote, “condoning this continued sanctioning of the destruction of Belizean democracy by not allowing us to participate effectively in the development of the ICJ conversation. We are adamant that any proposed changes should be brought to the Belizean public first and any philosophical premise that this is not necessary is tyrannical and dictatorial.
The public should always be informed every step of the way when it comes to the issue of our territorial integrity, and the Government should not exercise its whim to decide for us. It is not our territorial and maritime borders that are artificial; it is Sedi and his Government who are artificial for not being consistent and honorable towards the Belizean people. COLA continues to reiterate our position by saying NO to the ICJ.” End quote.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow issued a response, saying that it was the Government’s intention all along to inform the public on its plans however there was an issue in Guatemala that changed plans.
He argued that Belize has an advantage in that Guatemalans not acquiescing to the ICJ absolves Belize of responsibility. The Prime Minister said he was not about to dump on his Foreign Minister, especially since according to him both Opposition Leader Francis Fonseca and the PUP after consultation agreed to the change and all that remained was to send out the press release, which was never done because of internal issues in the Guatemalan government. It was originally planned that the amendment would be signed at an event also featuring the new Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), but this has been postponed.
And while he respects the view of those who disagree, it is a no-brainer for him: Belize can only gain from letting Guatemala go first. He also hit out at Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay for his comments on the issue and hints at when Belize will take its case to the people.
According to Barrow, Courtenay seemed to be in favor of the ICJ route a few years ago but like his leader has changed his mind because of “rank political opportunism.” P.M. Barrow also insists that the general elections and referendum are separate things things and any attempt to force the referendum into being an issue will not work; not to mention, he points out, that elections will not be held until the Government’s programs are completed.
He says he will say yes, but that’s only his vote. Any Belizean referendum would take place after the next general elections here, likely in the second half of 2016, to avoid any piggybacking by the Opposition.
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