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Elections could be delayed due to re-districting challenge in the Supreme Court

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Posted: Saturday, August 1, 2020. 7:33 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: As it stands, Belize is headed to general elections later this year, by at least the first week of November per Prime Minister Dean Barrow.

But today he acknowledged that a challenge to the constitutionality of Belize’s electoral divisions now in the courts could potentially postpone the elections.

“I don’t know whether there is time enough for this case to be heard and determined before what continues in my mind to be the due date for elections. But people must know, that if the claimants succeed, then there will, as a matter of what’s practical, have to be a postponement of the election, so that the redistricting exercise – which does not take a week or two weeks or three weeks or even a month – so that that exercise can be finished,” Barrow, the substantive Minister of Election and Boundaries, stated.

He added that “it is not the wish of the United Democratic Party, the current administration, to postpone the elections, and I don’t think that is the wish of the Belizean people.”

But earlier, he questioned whether the Opposition People’s United Party (PUP), while not a party to the case, is secretly maneuvering through one of its prominent legal allies, Senior Counsel Andrew Marshalleck (who represents Lord Michael Ashcroft officially as an interested party) to get the elections they have clamored for postponed.

Marshalleck won approval from Acting Chief Justice Michelle Arana to provide an independent expert to analyze the voting registers in support of their claim that they are unequal, discriminatory and unconstitutional.

Official claimants, the Belize PEACE Movement, have listed the following remedies:

A Declaration that given the current distribution of registered voters in Belize the electoral divisions as defined in Schedule 1 of the Representation of the People Act run contrary to section 1 of the Belize Constitution to the extent that it undermines the practice of democracy in Belize and/or is undemocratic.

A Declaration that the Defendants have failed to make proposals for dividing Belize into electoral divisions which meet the requirements of the Constitution in breach of section 90 of the Constitution;

A declaration that the Defendants are precluded by section 93 of the Belize Constitution from having resort to the electoral divisions as defined by Schedule 1 of the Representation of the People Act to conduct General Elections in Belize;

An order of mandamus compelling the defendants to make proposals to the National Assembly, pursuant to section 90 of the Constitution for the distribution of eligible electors to be as equal as possible;

An injunction restraining the Defendants, whether by themselves or by their servants or agents or howsoever, from conducting General Elections in Belize unless and until they comply with section 90 of the Belize Constitution; and costs.

The case has been adjourned to September.

 

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