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Kriol Council faces “shut out” from People’s Constitution Commission

Posted: Wednesday, October 19, 2022. 9:17 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Belize has more than 102 thousand people identifying as Kriol – second most of all ethnic groups behind the Mestizo.

And after Monday’s meeting of the House of Representatives, the National Kriol Council (NKC) argues that they have been “insulted” by the Government’s apparent decision to leave them out of representation on the People’s Constitution Commission (PCC).

Prime Minister John Briceño said during the meeting that the requests for representation had gotten “unwieldy” with the Commission already numbering 25 members. He emphasized that not being represented does not mean people will not have a say in developing the new Constitution. And he noted that while some groups such as the NKC have not been publicly active in recent years, there is no one Mestizo organization, for instance, that represents that numerically large group.

But the NKC maintained in a press release that because of their numbers, “it is unconscionable that this group of Belizeans can be excluded from such an important democratic process….the refusal to grant representation is an insult to Kriol people everywhere.”

They say they made representations in person and in writing to get on the Commission and there was a public undertaking by the Prime Minister to do so. But the draft legislation did not include the NKC and after being told it was an “oversight”, it still was not corrected because it was felt it would delay the start of the Commission, which is set for November 1.

Interim NKC President Marilyn Garvin told Channel 7 News that Good Governance Director Cesar Ross had assured by email that they were as good as on the Commission, so now they don’t know whom to believe. But they know they deserve, they feel, to be there: “We are again seeking clarity and to us, I feel we are getting the run-around: it’s not a sure yes [or] no, it’s like [Ross] is saying

and the P.M. is saying something else, so whom should we believe and where should we go from here… we’re tired of it; we just want to know if we are a part of it – we should be a part of the Commission, seeing that we are representing a big population…”

Ross is set to have a meeting with Minister Henry Charles Usher Thursday morning, according to Channel 7 News, after which a final decision on the inclusion of the Kriol Council should be made. In the meantime, the Council has addressed an additional letter to the PM and is eagerly awaiting his response.

 

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