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The Republic of Belize? King could go with National Assembly vote, says P.M.

Posted: Friday, May 5, 2023. 11:03 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: King Charles III, set to be formally crowned on Saturday, could see himself ousted as King of Belize by a simple vote of parliament, Prime Minister John Briceño has told The Guardian (UK), which has been sampling the opinions of residents of the remaining realms of the British monarchy ahead of the coronation.

Under Section 69 of the Constitution, certain of its provisions can be amended or revoked with a three-quarters majority (for example those relating to fundamental rights, the composition of the Legislature and conduct of elections, and others) and others by a two-thirds majority in Parliament. Among the latter is Section 36, which vests executive authority in the Crown and allows for the Crown to designate the Governor-General and others to exercise said authority (usually royal assent to laws).

The People’s Constitutional Commission was formed last November to consider revision to or the making of a new Constitution but has yet to set out a timeline for public meetings and education on the subject. Nonetheless, because of Section 69, the P.M. says it is “quite likely” that Belize will be next to follow Barbados by ditching royal authority – though what will follow thereafter has yet to be determined.

Belize is currently one of 14 members of the Commonwealth realm, where the crown remains the symbolic head of state. It is the only country within the realm that King Charles III has never visited, although each of the other leading members of the royal family has been here at least once, and the late Queen Elizabeth II twice.

Although Briceño has said he will put the commission’s broad recommendations to a referendum, he did not rule out removing the crown as head of state via parliament after the commission’s report. The recommendations are due next year.

Briceño told The Guardian he believed Belize would remain part of the Commonwealth of Nations, the political association of 56 states, mostly former territories of the British Empire.

There are no guarantees, however, and despite Briceño’s optimism, he realizes that there are still challenges to dispel the many myths that surround transitioning into a republic. Primary among them is a fear that departure from the crown would re-intensify an ongoing border dispute with neighbouring Guatemala, which has long laid claim to swathes of territory in Belize. (There are no guarantees of British military assistance in the current constitution.)

But above anything else, Briceño says, the constitutional reform effort must overcome a broader apathy here, where 42 percent of citizens live in poverty and the climate crisis poses an ever-evolving threat.

 

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