Home Belize-Guatemala Elrington: “GOB will not support PUP’s Motion”

Elrington: “GOB will not support PUP’s Motion”

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Today Foreign Affairs Minister Wilfred Elrington told the media that government will not support the Opposition People’s United Party’s motion to debate an amendment to the Maritime Areas Act in the Senate.  The PUP is proposing to remove those sections of the Maritime Areas Act that would have enabled a negotiated settlement of the claim by Guatemala to Belizean territory. If the amendment is approved, Belize will claim all its territorial seas and exclusive economic zone as provided for under international law.  Minister Elrington spoke to that and on suggestions that the government has been dragging its feet on amending the act, an advice that had been made since almost ten years ago.

Wilfred Elrington – Minister of Foreign Affairs

“I had never seen the legal advice and any legal advice was in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We had to acquire about its existence and a copy was furnished to our office last week by Ambassador Assad Shoman. It turned out that that legal advice was given to the government from about 2001 2002. Now I cannot for the life of me understand why it was that nobody did anything about it because from 2001 the People’s United Party was in office from 1998 to 2008 they had the information.”

Reporter

“Will you advise the government to take a bipartisan support effort for this amendment initiative to take place through the Senate?”

Wilfred Elrington – Minister of Foreign Affairs

“No. Actually, the Senate is late we had taken a decision to deal with the matter but dealing with these matters one has to be very conscious of the time and circumstances because of the effect that it can have. So basically the government of Belize, the cabinet had taken a decision to deal with it legislatively as early as April or maybe before that. I don’t know how it is so suddenly urgent as I am telling you this was advice given in 2001. It doesn’t help a society to grandstand on issues like this and the grandstanders need to be put to task, well when it was your turn why didn’t you deal with it?”

The PUP’s lead Senator, Eamon Courtenay who also served as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade for the period 2006-2007 under the then PUP Government responded to Minister Elrington’s accusations.

Eamon Courtenay – PUP’s Lead Senator

“First of all he also accused us of grandstanding. I will go on record to accuse him of dereliction of duty, secondly ignorance of history, thirdly a lack of understanding of the intricacies of this process. The Belizean people must understand that the maritime areas act was passed in order to try to arrive at a negotiated settlement of this dispute. It included in it a provision where we did not claim all our territorial sea and exclusive economic zone from the Sarstoon to Ranguana. To allow an agreement if possible to be reached and if approved by the people it is from then, 1991, that the legal advisor said if no settlement is achieved you need to make the full declaration of your territorial rights and exclusive economic zone so that goes back to 1991. What Mr.Elrington apparently either does not understand or he understands it and is misleading the Belizean people about is when is it that Belize and Guatemala agreed that no negotiating settlement was possible. That was in December 2008 when Wilfred Peter Elrington as Foreign Minister of Belize signed the special agreement saying we should go to court.  The People’s United Party was not in government in 2008 when the decision was taken by the parties that the matter would go to court if the people approve it in a referendum and therefore the condition for the removal of the provision in the Maritime Areas act didn’t come up until he signed that agreement. I listened to him just now finding all kinds of excuses as to why his party may not support it is that a nationalistic decision? Is that in the interest of Belize to be political on a national issue? What reason? What rational basis can be advanced by the UDP for not voting in favor it can only be that the because the PUP is proposing it they will oppose; that can only be the basis. I’m assuming that they’ll be more mature than that, more patriotic than that. I am hoping that they will do the right thing.”

Courtenay said the PUP will make the proposal in the Senate and hopes that civil society senators will support it.

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