When the Senate ratified the Bill on January 30, 2017 to protect the Central Bank’s Foreign Reserves from Lord Michael Ashcroft, the support was unanimous. The Bill was brought from the House of Representatives after the Prime Minister rushed through its three readings in one sitting following the threat to have a fifty US million dollar award enforced via a court order against the Government of Belize. Among those supporting the Bill was PUP’s Lead Senator, Eamon Courtenay who is also one of Lord Ashcroft’s attorneys. His support was short lived as soon thereafter, Senator Courtenay filed a constitutional challenge at the Supreme Court registry on behalf of the Ashcroft Group of Companies on the Central Bank of Belize International Immunities Amendment Bill. The Government of Belize had referred to Courtenay’s action as treason and demanded that he be removed from the Senate as there is a conflict of interest. The Leader of the Opposition, John Briceno, however, disagreed and expressed full support for Senator Courtenay. A few days ago Love News spoke to PUP’s Area Representative for Cayo South, Julius Espat on the matter and asked him for his views on the issue.
“I’ve listened to other people outside both UDP and PUP that have expressed similar points of view so it’s not that it’s not there. My only response to that is that remember I told you before that the Party Leader needs to surround himself with lots of talent and therefore a leader has to know when to position somebody that is for the benefit of the party and the country. I’m not saying his decision on that one is right or wrong but what I’m saying is that if it was a problem with many people somebody else could have filled the shoe for a while until he could have done something else. If it hurts so many people then why push it in their faces? That is just how I see it. I know the gentleman I know he is one of the most learned attorneys out there, if I would have a legal problem I would have him as one of my attorneys. So that is what leadership is about, a leader has to understand when to… You see I look at things like a chess table, you’re playing chess so you need to know when to move your queen, when to move your king or soldiers but you need soldiers, the pawns, the queen you need everyone on board but you also need to give yourself respect. You have to treat people fairly, you have to listen to people and give them respect for what they can do. If you surround yourself with only people that tell you want you want to hear and only people that you hire, and only people that work for you and only people that speak your language or look like you, you cannot inspire everybody else and we need to tell our leader and I think he is understanding; that you can’t just have people that work for you representing you in the party. You can’t just have people from Orange Walk being around you, you can’t just have people of a certain color skin be with you. You are now not the representative of the People’s United Party, 31 constituencies. You need to reach out, you need to involve everybody and you can’t be petty and you can’t allow the vultures to influence what you’re doing. I think he is listening, I think he is learning we are all learning in this curve.”
When the Senate had met to debate the Central Bank of Belize International Immunities Bill 2017 on January 30, 2017, Senator Courtenay noted that the legislation threatens personal criminalization against him and his law practice.