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THE REDISTRICTING CASE: Acting Chief Justice sets out reasons for the decision

Posted: Wednesday, October 28, 2020. 4:41 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Acting Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Michelle Arana, briefly set out her reasons for denying interim relief this afternoon, promising written reasoning later, although she noted that she has many case decisions to write up.

She said she was “persuaded by the abundance of case law provided, which includes Privy Council and Caribbean Court of Justice decisions, that this court does not have inherent jurisdiction to hear this matter, as the election process has already begun.”

Those submissions were made by Crown Counsel Samantha Matute-Tucker and Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay, the latter on behalf of People’s United Party leader John Briceño and chairman Henry Charles Usher, both candidates in the upcoming election.

The process referred to is the decision by outgoing Prime Minister Dean Barrow to advise the dissolution of the National Assembly to Governor-General Sir Colville Young on October 6, and set the date of elections for November 11, which is within the three-month limit to hold elections under Section 85(1) of the Constitution; in other words, the train has left the station.

The Court was asked to grant “injunctions to preclude the Elections and Boundaries Commission from relying on the First Schedule to the Representation of the People Act, for conducting general elections in Belize given that the definition of electoral divisions as set out in the Schedule remain in breach of Section 90 of the Belize Constitution. The applicants also seek an order that the Elections and Boundaries Commission be restrained from holding general elections until the trial of this claim is concluded, or until further order of this court, and that the time of service and hearing of this application be abridged.”

As the application is for interim relief, the trial of the primary matter continues. We will have a reaction from all sides shortly.


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