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Editorial – April 5th. 2019

Editorial – April 5th. 2019
April 05
15:14 2019

This week the Supreme Court issued an injunction supporting an application from the People’s United Party to delay the long planned referendum of April 10.

This referendum is to consult the voters of Belize on whether or not Belize should go to arbitration at the ICJ in response to the Guatemalan challenge.

Seven days before the referendum date, the Court dropped a bombshell and issued an injunction, stopping the referendum process in full stride.

There has been an avalanche of activity leading up to this momentous consulation, with a determined effort by the opposition to derail the referendum on the ground that the legal “writ” authorizing the referendum is not the correct one.

Now that the Court has ruled that more time needs to be given for legal arguments, the opposition PUP is beside itself with glee. It had discovered a technical flaw in the way the referendum “writ” had been drafted, and this apparently has been enough, in the view of the Chief Justice, to upset the whole apple-cart. The Prime Minister and his government have been completely blind-sided by this new development, but there appears to be a “Plan B.”

The Party will go along with the Supreme Court’s injunction and present more detailed legal arguments. But it has no assurance that this procedure will be completed in time, or that the Court will agree with its point of view in the time left to avoid a postponement.

So the government is going to apply to a higher court, the Belize Court of Appeals, a three-judge tribunal, for an order to lift the referendum injunction, to enable the consultation with the electorate to proceed as planned on Wednesday, April 10.

Is it not likely that the Supreme Court will complete its deliberations in time, and so the best hope the government has of salvaging a desperate situation is to have the Court of Appeal lift the injunction imposed by Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin.

It is believed that government forces are planning a massive demonstration in Belize City for Monday April 8 to demonstrate that the voters of Belize understand what is at stake and want the consultation to take place as planned, meaning no disrespect to the Supreme Court, but relying on common sense instead of legal intricacy.

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