By Benjamin Flowers
Following government’s call for his removal from the Senate, PUP Senator Eamon Courtenay countered by accusing the UDP of attacking his character to distract the Belizean people from national issues.
Courtenay spoke at length on Tuesday, addressing several issues that the UDP had raised in their call for his removal, including: his conflict of interest in representing Michael Ashcroft, his constitutional challenge of the recent laws passed to secure Belize’s foreign assets, and his early departure from the Senate Inquiry into the Immigration and Nationality Department.
Courtenay challenged that, as an attorney, he had no conflict of interest in representing Ashcroft, because it his job. He contended that Prime Minister Dean Barrow, through his law firm, also represents Ashcroft, and countered with his own conflict of interest accusation.
“I am saying to the media and the public of Belize, the Prime Minister of this country is to declare to the people of Belize whether or not his law firm is a shareholder in Mister Ashcroft’s company…We need an answer to that,” Courtenay said.
Courtenay also accused the government of lying to Belizeans on the urgency of passing the Central Bank of Belize (International Immunities) Act and the Crown Proceedings (Amendment) Act, because the Central Bank of Belize’s assets abroad are already protected from attachment under United States law. He added that his law firm has filed a separate challenge of the law on his behalf because it affects him personally and professionally, by criminalizing events which have already happened.
He went on to say that, with respect to his alleged abandoning of his Senatorial duties, he left the hearing on February 8, satisfied that he would not miss any pertinent information, because all of the major witnesses will need to reappear before the senate.
Courtenay said that the government is trying to distract Belizeans from the incoming tax hikes, incidences of corruption where UDP ministers have enriched themselves, and blatant immigration fraud, where thousands of unqualified persons were allowed to participate in general elections.
“Those are the issues that Belizeans are interested in, those are the issues that affect Belizeans and those are the issues that we should be talking about rather than some personal, vulgar, nasty name calling by the UDP against me,” he fired.
Last week, the UDP made two calls for Courtenay’s resignation or removal from the Senate, saying that he had betrayed the Belizean people for the interests of Michael Ashcroft. Leader of the Opposition John Briceño, said that his party supported Courtenay; however, the PUP’s press release stopped short of giving the party’s position on Courtenay representing Ashcroft in the constitutional challenges.