Today was the commencement of the long overdue re-registration exercise. Centers across the country opened to accommodate persons who want to participate in the process. Love News visited several of the re-registration centers and found them to be very scanty. The centers will be opened from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Mondays to Fridays, and 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturdays.And as the Elections and Boundaries Department begins the work, six groups, including two representing the diaspora of Belize are seeking to challenge this process. The challenge is twofold. The groups, including BUFERHD, The Peace Movement, the Northern Territorial Volunteers and the Belize Territorial Volunteers, who have been joined by groups BREDDA and Belize Diaspora Voting Rights from Los Angeles are moving to have Naturalized Belizeans of Guatemalan origin removed from the voting list, citing that it contravenes Belize’s Constitution. They also seek to ensure that Belizeans living abroad are allowed to re-register and take part in the April referendum in 2019. As reported, in this process, those re-registering are required to live at an address in Belize for a minimum of two months, which is a requirement that Belizean living abroad can’t meet. President of BUFERHD Derek Aikman says they will petition the government on both matters and if government does not respond favorably, they are prepared to seek legal recourse.
President of BUFERHD Derek Aikman: Belizeans born in Belize living abroad who are on the last list as voters won’t qualify to get onto this list through re-registration because there is a requirement that chief elections officer has said that they cannot meet but Guatemalans who have been nationalized as Belizean citizens in contravention of the very constitution of this nation that says no countries citizens that claims Belize can get Belizean citizenship yet there are over 30,0000 Guatemalans that were on the last list that the chief elections officer has said will be allowed to go back on this list. We can make it through the storm but first we have to make sure that we monitor and we regulate the registration process. That we document every single Guatemalan that goes into a cloy to get back on the voters list and a due course. I am not going to reveal our strategy just yet but we will take the matter to the courts as a constitutional challenge to ensure that Guatemalans even if they put them on the list will be struck off the list even before the referendum date. That even though diaspora’s will be prevented from registering right now that we will get the support of the Supreme court in this land to make such an adjustment so that our own Belizeans because every Belizean no matter where you live should have a say in the sovereignty of this nation and so voting in the ICJ for every Belizean no matter where you are is critical, that is what we believe.
The question was then raised as to why the groups have waited this long to address the matter of including naturalized Belizeans of Guatemalan origin on the voters list. Aikman says they believe the timing is just right.
President of BUFERHD Derek Aikman: This organization’s perspective; the benefit we think that we have to file it post or during the re registration process is because through our network that we are setting up, a national network to oversee the re-registration process. We will be able every single day at the close of the registration process on daily basis; The network that we have put in place will be able to report to us from around the country, every single Guatemalan applied to be registered on that day so that at least on a weekly basis we can tell the Belizean people ok as of this first week of the process x number of Guatemalan have applied. Second week whatever is that so that at the end of the day even if they have accepted their registration we will be able to tangibly and with data tell Belize because half of them don’t know the impact on this Guatemalan onslaught on our registering and voting process. They may not be able to appreciate the magnitude of Guatemalans that are on this list but we will be able to tell them that through this process because every day we are collecting the data everyday.
Chairman of PEACE Movement, Bobby Lopez adds that they have been pursuing the matter for some time now but held back after they obtained legal advice to wait for a date for the referendum to be set. Registration centers will be closed at the end of August; thereafter, the Elections and Boundaries Department Registration Offices countrywide will be utilized for the ongoing re-registration exercise.After the mass registration is completed, a register of electors will be published. Thereafter, fourteen days will be allowed for objections and rectification of particulars, after which they would be revised by the courts.