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Former Belmopan Mayor Speaks on Nomination to Chair the People’s Constitution Commission

Former Belmopan Mayor Anthony Chanona has been asked to be the chairman of the People’s Constitution Commission. According to Chanona, he received a phone call from Prime Minister John Briceno who asked him to consider being the Chairman of the Commission to which Chanona said yes. He then received a letter from the Ministry of Public Service and Constitutional and Political Reform, nominating him. Today, Chanona made it quite clear that he has not been appointed because the bill is not law. After the People’s Constitution Commission Bill is passed by the House of Representatives before being taken to the Senate. If the Senate approves the bill it will then be sent to the Governor General for perfection. It is then that Chanona will officially become the chairman. However, his nomination is being criticized because Chanona’s son-in-law is the Minister of Public Service, Constitutional and Political Reform and Religious Affairs, Henry Charles-Usher. Chanona says that if his candidacy will fuel the rhetoric of hate and dissent he will walk away. 

Anthony Chanona, Former Belmopan Mayor: “You look at me, because I am the father-in-law of the Minister of the Public Service. We’re too small a nation to divide each other up, rather than to try to help to build up each other. I called it out, and I’m glad that the person who was offended was also called. We are Belizeans first. I am not a white Belizean, you are not a Hispanic Belizean, nor someone is a black Belizean. We are Belizeans living in a country that declares the supremacy of God, all made in His image and likeness. And, that tells me that this work is going to be very very important, and if my candidacy is going to fuel the rhetoric of hate and dissent, I will walk away. When you use the words conflict of interest, I understand that in my business world to mean I am competing with your interest, and therefore, we have a conflict. My son-in-law won his seat by the popular vote of the people of Belize.” 

Chanona made an appearance this morning at the National Assembly building in Belmopan where a public consultation was held on the bill. Chanona who has read and reviewed the bill thoroughly, says there is one section of the bill he would recommend amending. 

Anthony Chanona, Former Belmopan Mayor: “Of all the points that I presented to the committee, the one that is of most concern to me is the regulation seven, the independence of the commission. I think that as the bill is written that becomes question of concern. There has, or should be, some amendment to remove that the minister determines or approves regulations, orders, and work of the commission. It will not help, and I believe in fairness to what the Government is trying to do, recall, the 1999 – 2000 launch of the People’s Consultation and Political Reform did not have a law. The fact that the Briceno administration has embarked on providing language to this intended work means that it is trying to do the right thing. The right thing would be to remove a lot of ministerial discretion, approval, and determination to the work of the commission.”