Posted: Thursday, August 4, 2022. 6:47 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: As indicated earlier today in the Cabinet Brief, a joint statement by the national coalition of churches and the Government of Belize confirms that: 1) The Church Leaders on behalf of the petitioners and the Government of Belize request of the Governor General to defer the issuing of the Writ of Referendum until a date to be determined; 2) The Government of Belize undertakes to introduce legislation at the next sitting of the House of Representatives to mandate the holding of a National Referendum on the matter of The Cannabis Industrial Hemp Control and Licensing Bill, 2022, to determine the will of the Belizean people; and 3.) In the interest of national unity and cooperation the parties will continue to dialogue and work together on this matter and all matters of national concern.
The declaration recognizes, on the part of the Government, the successful effort of the Church Leaders in garnering the required 10 percent threshold of petitions to trigger a National Referendum on the Cannabis Bill, and the public declaration of Prime Minister John Briceño that the Bill will not be brought into force until the issues in relation to the banking of proceeds connected to cannabis are resolved because this would otherwise have a negative effect on Belize’s domestic banks’ correspondent banking relationships.
As we previously reported, on July 19, 2022, Deputy Prime Minister Cordel Hyde and other members of Cabinet met with the Church Leaders to discuss the referendum and especially the high cost of holding a National Referendum at this time, for which $5 million was budgeted. Six days later, Senator Bishop A. Moses Benguche expressed in writing the position of the Church Leaders and agreed to the postponement of the National Referendum, and the parties have agreed to this joint statement.
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