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April 18, 2019
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ICJ Fever: Back at it!

Posted: Thursday, April 18, 2019. 1:52 pm CST.

 
By BBN Staff:  With a new date being set for Belize’s historic national referendum, the public awareness and education campaign as well as the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaigns continue to actively engage Belizeans.
 
On May 8, 2019, Belizeans will vote in favor of or against taking Guatemala’s claim on Belize’s territory to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for final resolution.

Belizeans will be asked:

“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 determine finally the boundaries of the respective territories and areas of the Parties?”

Proponents of the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ to the ICJ campaigns are engaged in relentless campaigns countrywide.

The ICJ fever has also caused division and shifts in Belize’s political landscape.

Former Senator of the Opposition, People’s United Party (PUP) and attorney, Lisa Shoman is representing the Government of Belize in a constitutional challenge filed by the PUP requesting an injunction for the April 10th referendum. The PUP is being represented by attorney Eamon Courtenay.

Also notable is that Former Minister of Foreign Affairs under the former PUP administration, Assad Shoman joined forces for a sustained ‘Yes’ campaign under his newly formed Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Citizens for Defense and Sovereignty.

The ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) and their women’s group have publicly shared their support for a ‘Yes’ vote. However, Prime Minister Dean Barrow in his press conference held last week reiterated that Belizeans have the right and freedom to vote how ever they see fit for Belize and the future of Belize.

“For those Belizeans who weigh everything in the balance and decide to vote no.  That is your right, we absolutely will respect that.  I would wish it to be otherwise but it will not make you any less of a patriot than those who vote yes. Thank you,” Barrow said.

While, Leader of the PUP, John Briceno had initially gone on record stating that he will vote ‘Yes’, he then conducted a listening tour within his party leading him to shift gears and push for a ‘No’ vote.

The PUP represented by lead Attorney, Eamon Courtenay also managed to get an interim injunction on the previously scheduled April 10th referendum.

The interim injunction set by Chief Justice, Kenneth Benjamin along with other recent events including the decision of the Court of Appeal to uphold the injunction are significant occurrences that will be told in Belize’s history to our children and grandchildren.

Belizeans living at home and abroad as well as the International community are closely monitoring Belize’s decision on this very important issue.

History will also record the determination of the Government of Belize, the Opposition and ‘Friends of Belize’, each with their own perspective on how Belizeans should vote on May 8, 2019.

Campaign fevers aside though, the fact is that ultimately Belizeans have the power to decide whether or not to take the claim to the ICJ for final settlement. If Belizeans vote ‘Yes’, then we follow the procedures at the court and if we vote ‘No’, then negotiations must continue.

BBN encourages all Belizeans to devote time to seek information, and when you ink your fingers on May 8, 2019, vote your conscience based on the facts provided and not based on what your party is telling you.

And finally, please do not accept any money to vote either ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, as the way things seem to be going, vote buying seems likely to find its way into the referendum process.

 

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