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Leader of the Opposition says head of People’s Constitutional Commission should be “non-political;” decries alleged nepotism

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Posted: Wednesday, July 20, 2022. 9:03 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Hackles have been raised as to the reported appointment of former Mayor of Belmopan Anthony Chanona to head the People’s Constitutional Commission (PCC) due to be set up to consider a revision of Belize’s Constitution Act, which is slightly older than the nation is.

Leader of the Opposition Moses “Shyne” Barrow told media houses earlier that, “My position and that of the UDP is we object to the appointment of Mr Chanona due to him being a former PUP Mayor, the father-in-law of Constitutional Reform Minister Henry Charles [Usher] and having no qualifications that I know of in Constitutional Law as a lecturer or lawyer; no qualifications as a human rights or civil rights activist or the sort.” He further noted that he is the father of current Senator for the non-governmental organizations, Janelle Chanona.

Barrow further stated, “Such a crucial appointment requires an apolitical person whose integrity is beyond reproach but also someone who has the expertise in Constitutional Law, Human Rights and Social Justice.”

And he added, “Let us not politicize the sacred Constitution of our Nation. There are many qualified persons who are not related to the PUP Minister in charge of [constitutional and political reform]. Let us preserve the integrity of this much needed process to reform our Constitution by appointing a qualified none political (sic) Chair.”

Barrow told us tonight that he has not been consulted about the appointment. On the general population of the Commission, he stated, “The Commission should be equally populated by all the social partners and Opposition, Government and experts Chair by a none political (sic) person qualified in Constitutional reform.”

As potential heads he suggested former Ambassador to the European Union and noted political scientist Dylan Vernon, or former Ombudsman and attorney Cynthia Pitts.

We understand that the Commission, whose Secretariat is led by Dr Cesar Ross and Michelle Rodriguez, hopes to kick off its work on August 1, Emancipation Day, though it awaits the passing of the Bill in parliament which will take place when it returns from summer recess.

 

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