The legislation which allows for the voters of Belize to trigger a referendum requires a mandate from ten percent of the voting population. That means that those participating in the petition exercise need to be registered voters.
It is not therefore surprising that the referendum petition organized by Oceana Belize earlier this year had such a high proportion of unaccepted ballots. When the signatures of the referendum petitioners were checked against the official voters’ list, it was found that many who submitted their names in the referendum petition, including students and young people below 18, were not authorized to vote.
We do not understand why the Chief Elections Officer has been slow to point this out, or why she has not been more helpful in explaining why more than 8,000 votes were rejected,but the recent lawsuit brought by Oceana Belize which named the Governor General as a party in the dispute seems mischievous and irascible.
When he was approached by Oceana on the subject, the Governor General replied promptly and courteously that the matter was not something over which he had any jurisdiction.
That is true! The Governor General is the representative in Belize of our Head of State, who is Her Majesty the Queen. He does not become involved at the administrative level of political disputes.
Oceana Belize could have made its approach to the Court and challenged the authority of the Chief Elections Officer without involving the Governor General, who has been circumspect and dignified at all times.
If we in Belize do not hold in high esteem our outstanding citizens, we are unerringly contributing to the breakdown of our civil society and the continuing crisis of contempt for lawful authority.
If Oceana Belize has reason to believe that it was not fairly treated on the referendum matter, let it look for vindication in court, where it will receive a fair hearing.
In our view it was petulant and crabby beyond expectation for Oceana Belize to involve the Governor General in this complaint of unfair treatment.