Belize Peace Movement Threatens Legal Action Over Redistricting Delays

Belize Peace Movement Threatens Legal Action Over Redistricting Delays

Tonight, the Belize Peace Movement (BPM) is sending a strong message to the Briceno Administration.  The movement has told Love News that they are preparing to file for an injunction against the next general election if the redistricting exercise is not completed by then.  It has been some five years now since the movement has been pushing for the size of the 31 electoral divisions to have equal portions of the voting population.  According to Robert Lopez, the redistricting matter has seen four different judges presiding over the issue; an issue which he says is essential to Belize’s democracy and constitution.  The injunction is a few months away, but for now, the BPM is waiting for a ruling from the High Court regarding the consent order recently issued.  But just how far does the BPM plans to go in ensuring that this exercise is done?  

Robert Lopez, Belize Peace Movement: “We applied for the current schedule to be struck down as being unconstitutional and it cannot be used in an election. We’re also applying for an injunction in the event they call an election so you know we were here four years ago at this very same spot and so we’re right here again and we haven’t changed our position. We are demanding. This is about all Belizeans having equal value to their vote in the next elections whenever it is called. You know that the learned judge Nabei is going to rule on it sometime this month. We’re now in June and she promised to give it some urgency in hearing our case for enforcement of the consent order a couple weeks ago. So we’re looking forward to her ruling and to see where well of course what comes out of that.”

Today’s interview with Lopez was triggered by remarks made by Prime Minister John Briceno last Thursday following the House Meeting.  The claimants into the redistricting matter say they are concerned, disappointed and upset that the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill, 2024 was merely presented for its first reading in last week’s house meeting.  Lopez explained that as the claimants sat in the gallery of the National Assembly last week, they were hoping that the government would have pushed through with the three readings in order to have the exercise executed and finalized before the 2025 general elections.  Over the weekend, the claimants met and drafted a letter to the Prime Minister not only expressing their disappointment but also reminding him of his constitutional mandate.

Robert Lopez, Belize Peace Movement: “Both parties were in court in October of 2020 and what essential they said is what we need to do regardless of who wins is to move swiftly after the elections to do the necessary redivisioning. So here’ a broken promise and we thought that we need to remind the Prime Minister as the Chief Executive of the country that he has an obligation. He has an obligation to uphold the constitution and then further to that we wanted to remind him and parliamentarians of the oath of office that they all take when taking office to uphold the constitution and laws of Belize. This is very serious. This is a constitutional mater and we don’t think it should be taken lightly and also we want to remind the Prime Minister that yes he is saying the elections has to be held by next November but there is also another 90 day period extension that he can also fall back on and use. So we have enough time to get this exercise done and as the court’s expert witness said in the sixty page report to the court that this exercise could be done in a matter of hours. We are saying if the Elections and Boundaries can put together a task force then they can certainly include an expert in this area and have this exercise expedited so that we can hold a constitutional election whenever he calls it and that is our position and we’re not going to take this lightly. We’re gonna be on top of this every single time we get the opportunity to remind them of their constitutional obligation.”

With a sentiment that the government is intentionally dragging its feet, the Belize Peace Movement says the opposition should be ashamed that they have not joined the push to do what is constitutionally right as it relates to the voters’ list and divisions.

Robert Lopez, Belize Peace Movement: “Certainly we haven’t heard a single word from the Opposition so they like the status quo just as it is and nobody wants to rock that boat. So we cry shame on them that they have not stood up and voiced their opposition to it. But there are any in this administration that have openly voiced their discontent and their serious concerns they have with it and they’re not in favor of it because they have said so publicly and so we really appreciate the media being on top of this and asking the questions. I think the media really should do a poll and call every single area rep and say ‘what is your position ? Let us know are you in favor or not, yes or no.’ So those are the things that we kinda need to do.”

The Redistricting case was brought prior to the 2020 general elections by members of the Belize Peace Movement, with ten claimants against the Ministry of the Attorney General and the Elections and Boundaries Commission.

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