Posted: Wednesday, October 28, 2020. 6:38 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: In the opinion of Belize PEACE Movement Treasurer, Paul Morgan, after today’s ruling: “Section 20 of our Constitution, that guarantees that we can come to the court if we have been hurt; if we are hurting now; or if we think we are hurting in the future – that can be set aside completely, if the Executive of the country does something to thwart it. In other words, we are living in a country, at this point in time, where executive action trumps constitutional rights…executive action thwarts the individual’s rights under the Constitution.”
That section guarantees equal protection before the law.
BPM Chairman, Robert Lopez, confirmed that the case will continue: “We shall appeal…This is a leap of faith; this is a journey of faith; and so we place our faith in God, and we feel that our Constitution also, in recognizing the supremacy of God, expects us to do nothing less than to seek justice and to go as far as we can.”
The election expert Sean Trende, as cited by Lopez, wrote that the malapportionment “violates all international norms; if you have a 520 percent disparity between the smallest and the largest, being Fort George and Stann Creek West, how can you say that those are equal or nearly equal?”
Lopez also notes that in 1988 (under the UDP administration of Sir Manuel Esquivel), it was necessary to amend the Constitution to correct malapportionment in electoral divisions at that time. Esquivel and then-Leader of the Opposition Florencio Marin, Sr., agreed to a Constitutional amendment that included the removal of limits for each electorate (between 2,000 and 3,000) and placed the phrase “as nearly equal as may be” in its stead. With the malapportionment not as grave then, he argues, there was equanimity; now, it appears, both sides agree to disagree against correcting the current malapportionment which exists right away.
Lopez commended attorneys Arthur Saldivar and Senior Counsel Andrew Marshalleck for their arguments and the assistance of Lord Ashcroft in securing the services of Trende. He also noted that their struggle has caught eyes internationally – at the United Nations, Commonwealth, CARICOM, Organization of American States (OAS) and others and will appear on a radio show in Dominica at the weekend to discuss their efforts.
Lopez vowed that the BPM will continue to seek justice, not for itself, but for all Belizeans, to prevent the rise of more social ills he says is caused by the inadequate distribution of resources which leads back to people’s representation. He also reiterated that redistricting can be done “in a matter of hours,” and that the November 11 elections are invalid and not constitutional because of this glaring oversight.
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