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Monday is ‘decision day’ for ICJ referendum

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Posted: Sunday, April 7, 2019. 12:23 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: At sometime in the next 24 hours or so, Belizeans will learn whether they will have an opportunity to share their responses to this question: “Do you agree that any legal claim of Guatemala against Belize relating to land and insular territories and to any maritime areas pertaining to these territories should be submitted to the International Court of Justice for final settlement and that it determines finally the boundaries of the respective territories and areas of the parties?”

First, the Government must successfully challenge an injunction granted last week Wednesday by Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin to five parliamentarians and a standard bearer for the Opposition People’s United Party. They filed suit in March questioning among other things the right of Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilfred Elrington to enter Belize into the Special Agreement signed in December 2008, and whether the referendum question should have been moved under Section 2 (1) (a) as a matter of national importance rather than as a proposed settlement of the claim under subsection  (d).

The Chief Justice agreed there is a case to be tried on the latter point and has set direction hearings for Monday morning. But the Government has filed an appeal of the decision to the court of appeal, also to be heard on Monday.

Both sides have expressed confidence in their argument with the Government accusing the Opposition of trying to ‘run out the clock.’

Essentially, the Court of Appeal panel can reverse the injunction and allow the referendum to go ahead, or uphold it. The court in case management on Friday offered the Opposition a bypass to the Caribbean Court of Justice but they said they would reserve their rights.

BBN will have all the action as it happens throughout the course of Monday.

 

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