Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin struck out the election petition brought against the UDP’s Lake Independence area representative, Hon. Mark King, on Thursday, May 17.
Benjamin upheld the application by King’s attorney, Senior Counsel Denys Barrow, to strike out the petition lodged by the Opposition People’s United Party Lake Independence candidate, Martin Galvez.
Galvez’s petition, filed on April 4, contended that a contract existing between the government of Belize and King’s company, Brints Security, disqualified him as a candidate.
According to the stipulation of Section 58 (1) (h) of the Belize Constitution: “No person shall be qualified to be elected as a member of the House of Representative who is a party to, or partner in a firm or a director of a company which is a party to, any contract with the government for or on account of the public service and has not, within one month before the day of election, declared publicly and in a newspaper circulating in the electoral division for which he is a candidate, a notice setting out the nature of the contract and his interest or the interest of any such firm or company therein.”
King had failed to declare Brints Security’s contract before he was nominated for the March 7 General Elections.
The court heard Barrow’s application to strike out on Thursday, May 10.
Galvez’s attorney, Senior Counsel Lisa Shoman told reporters following the ruling that: “His Lordship took the view that the words for and account of the public service should mean very narrowly the institution of the Public Service.”
Shoman said that they do not agree with that interpretation and the legal team will be discussing it. She said the decision is an appealable matter, because it turns on the interpretation of the Constitution.
Barrow told reporters that the judge accepted all of the submissions his side had made, tracing the history of this provision of the Constitution and ended up with the determination of what the Constitution intended to capture in relation to contracts.
“It is clear from what the judge has now decided that the Constitution does not intend to disqualify just anybody, because you have just the fact of a contract with the government of Belize.”