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Belize must complete re-registration before referendum

Posted: Monday, April 16, 2018. 1:50 p.m. CST .

By BBN Staff: With Guatemala having already fulfilled its obligation to hold a national referendum on taking the 200 year old territorial claim to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Belize is next to honor its commitment, however, a referendum cannot be held until after the long-overdue re-registration process.

The last re-registration process took place almost 21 years ago, in July 1997. By law, a re-registration process should happen every 10 years, however, administrations for the past two decades have not honored the obligation. In February, Brendalyn Staine, a registering officer for the Election and Boundaries Department confirmed to the media that the re-registration process had been tentatively scheduled for July 1.

The referendum will be held some time after the re-registration process, however, no date has been set the referendum to happen. If Belizeans vote ‘Yes’, the dispute for about half of Belize’s territory will be taken to the ICJ, and the decision will be final, so if either side is unhappy with the outcome, it cannot be appealed.

Belize and Guatemala signed an agreement in 2008, which stipulated that both countries would simultaneously hold a national referendum to decide whether or not to take the claim to the ICJ, among other co-operation measures. The agreement was later modified and Guatemala agreed to hold its referendum first.

Though only about a quarter of Guatemala’s voting population turned out to the polls, the majority of those who cast their ballots voted ‘Yes’.

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