The Belize Peace Movement is in the process of filing an injunction to the Supreme Court to postpone elections until a redistricting exercise is conducted. Yesterday the Office of the Prime Minister announced that General Elections would be held on November 11. The BPM filled the lawsuit last December and according to the Chairman of BPM, Robert Lopez the case has been delayed several times. According to him the issue has to do with ensuring that all 31 electoral divisions are equal. He noted that currently there is a 5-1 ratio between several divisions, meaning that 1 vote in the Fort George division is worth 5 votes in Stann Creek West. According to Lopez they will be filing the injunction in the next few days.
Robert Lopez, Chairman, Belize Peace Movement: “The case has been delayed. We’ve had certainly COVID-19 has been a huge delay in the whole process but built into our case was an injunction in the event that elections came around and the case was not fully ventilated in the Supreme Court and so that is exactly what has happened now and the PM is well aware that there was an injunction, the PM is aware that there is a case before the Supreme Court dealing with the redistricting and the malapportionment that currently exists and has not been addressed by the Elections and Boundaries Commission. Certainly they’ve had a year in which to address this and we feel that it’s total negligence on their part to not have at least begun the process. At least if we say “Okay they begun the exercise.” but no they would rather kick it down the road, violate the constitution and fight us in court. We have instructed our attorneys to prepare to file the injunction papers within the next few days which we’re asking the court to request to the Elections and Boundaries Commission to put a stay on the date that has been called until our case has been fully ventilated in the court and that we hope that the Elections and Boundaries is mandated to carry out the redistricting process in order for us to have a constitutional election held, a legal election held when that time comes.”
Robert Lopez says that the BPM will be taking the case to the highest level possible if the election is not postponed.
Robert Lopez, Chairman, Belize Peace Movement: “In that case then we will have to go to the Appeals Court and if it’s necessary we will go to the Caribbean Court of Justice which is the highest court in our region. We don’t want that the same thing that happened to Guyana happen to Belize and so we’re hoping that that will not be the case but if that is what we have to do then we’re prepared to go the full nine yards. We believe that it is only the court who are the guardians of our constitution remember we’re a constitutional democracy, our democracy is based on a written constitution which we must respect and we must abide and so we have full faith in the Judiciary that it will do what is right and this exercise can be done within the time frame. Yes the PM has called election in the next thirty days but we know that there is a ninety day extension that the PM can also use and so we feel that within 120 days the court can expedite this case, the Elections and Boundaries can be mandated to carry out the redistricting exercise and we can have a legally constitutional election after all of that has been done.”
Lopez highlighted that Belize has signed several International Conventions such as the Inter American Democratic Charter and the UN Convention on Free and Fair Elections. This means that the country has an international obligation to ensure that elections are carried out fairly. Meanwhile the Government’s Press Office has issued a release indicating that the polling stations countrywide will open at 7am and close at 6pm on election day, November 11. As for nomination day, this will take place from 10 in the morning to 4pm on Wednesday, October 21. As we have been noting to voters, in order to vote on election day you would have had to been registered on September 11 or before.