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Electoral redistricting case goes back to court

Posted: Wednesday, May 22, 2024. 10:58 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: Today, Wednesday, the High Court of Belize is hearing the application of members of the Belize PEACE Movement, asking the Court to treat the Consent Order of November 11, 2022, enjoining the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) to redraw electoral boundaries per the Constitution, as void, due to the “substandard performance” of the Commission. If successful, the Claimants will ask the Court to declare that the current voter’s list is unconstitutional and is unsuitable for use in the next general elections. The Claimants will also ask the court to order the Elections and Boundaries Commission to submit new proposals to the National Assembly that will be of constitutional and international standard. This case is being held online rather than in-person.

The Commission and the Claimants entered into a Consent Order in which the Commission acknowledged that the Commission needed to do its job under the Constitution. This meant that the Commission was to make the 31 divisions of Belize “nearly as may be an equal number of persons eligible to vote”. By this undertaking, the Commission admitted that there existed severe malapportionment among Belize’s electoral divisions. The Consent Order resulted in the Commission presenting Proposals for Redistricting to the National Assembly which when done, the Claimants rejected as a breach, because the proposals failed to meet the standard of the Belize Constitution, and international standards. The proposals were so bad that after almost one year, the National Assembly has not seen it fit to table and debate the proposals.

In arguments this morning, attorney for the Movement Arthur Saldivar argued that with 30 percent of the national population, Belize District has 42 percent, or 13 of 31 electoral divisions, compared to Cayo District which has 24 percent of the population but only six divisions. This represents an inequality that translates to distribution of resources and the individual value of each voter.

We’ll have more later on.

 

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