April 10 is the date set for the referendum and the Peoples United Party is seeking an injunction to postpone the referendum. The application was heard last week Friday morning before Chief Justice, Kenneth Benjamin. Leader of the Opposition, John Briceno made the case on behalf of the PUP on Friday evening.
Leader of the Opposition John Bricenio: “We are not ready to have a referendum on the 10th of April and there are so many things that need to be addressed but in this case we are taking the Government on two issues: the first one is saying that you cannot bypass the National Assembly. The Executive does not have the power to sign international agreements and enact it into our international laws without coming to the House first. Secondly we are saying that in the Compromis I think it is Article 7. We are saying that we have agreed with the Government that we are going to have a binding referendum that we are having on the 10th of April. It is not a binding, it is a non binding referendum and that is why we are asking the courts to address this and to see if they would agree with what we are saying. From 2008 Senator Courtenay pointed out that the Government or the Executive cannot bypass the National Assembly. In 2010 Senator Courtenay gave a long presentation and made the very case that you cannot bypass the Assembly. It was passed by the Senate because it was only tabled in the House of Representatives. When it went to the Senate again Senator Courtenay and our other Senators made the point that this needs to go to the House first because it can potentially change the constitution of Belize and so he made it abundantly clear that we need to go to the House first. We have been saying it over and over and over hoping that the Government would listen and make the necessary adjustments to bring it to the House but now that they are refusing to bring it to the House then we have to take legal action. Former Senator Lisa Shoman knows well and knows even better than I because I am not an attorney that you cannot go to the court ahead of time. We had to wait until the writ of the referendum came close to the date that the writ of the referendum was going to be issued. If we would have done it last year the court would have said that we are jumping the gun, that we need to wait to see if the Government is going to proceed with the referendum or not so we have to wait and secondly we had to do the necessary research to make sure that we have a solid case. After we have done all of that we then felt that this is the right time or the only time that we can do that. For the court to give a ruling to decide whether we are right or not.”
The Government as well as the Opposition were both represented by former appointed Peoples United Party Foreign Ministers. Lisa Shoman appeared for the Barrow Administration while Eamon Courtenay represented the PUP. The case returns to court on Monday, April 1.