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U.D.P. accuses P.U.P. of “ripping away democracy”

Posted: Tuesday, April 9, 2019. 6:27 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: In the wake of the stunning events of the past week, the ruling United Democratic Party (U.D.P.) clings to its hope of getting the ICJ referendum back on track.

It has chosen to attack its Opposition rival People’s United Party (P.U.P.) for a “malicious, unconditional campaign to block the democratic right of Belizeans.”

In a statement, the U.D.P. argues that the P.U.P. “wants the court to rule that Belizeans SHOULD NOT vote in a referendum on going to the ICJ,” which it says goes against the law (a reference to the Referendum Act) and unnecessarily clouds this national issue with “personal biases or agendas.” It further accuses the P.U.P. of not wanting a popular vote at all – “they want the politicians to decide.”

Lastly, the U.D.P. hits P.U.P. leader John Briceño for putting “democracy and national security in the garbage dump” and seeking “any possible victory in order to protect his position as Party Leader.” It concludes that the P.U.P. maliciously sought to delay the vote – and thus deny it.

Wednesday’s scheduled vote, however, will not go ahead, and there has been no report of any hearing before the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) that would result in it doing so. Prime Minister and U.D.P. leader Dean Barrow has said it is necessary for the injunction granted a week ago by Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin to be lifted in order for the referendum to proceed, most likely by the CCJ. Nevertheless, he intends to go to the House of Representatives later this week to cure the reported defect in the writs of referendum issued earlier this year.

During his press conference on Monday evening after the Court of Appeal declined to intervene on the basis of lack of jurisdiction, 21 days not having elapsed from last week’s decision, Prime Minister Barrow mentioned that the Opposition Leader had told Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte that “everything you [the Government] will do, we will oppose.” Indeed, Briceño has referred to the People’s Declaration issued before the start of the court case as the P.U.P.’s basis for moving forward, though he has stated that he wants nothing more than to sit down on equal terms with the Government and move forward.

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