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Minister Usher Speaks on the Redistricting Process

Another national issue that came up was the matter of redistricting. The opposition’s Area Representative Moses Shyne Barrow questioned the status of the exercise. He got a response from the Minister of Public Service, Henry Charles Usher, but not before being the subject of some ridicule.

Henry Charles Usher, Minister of Public Service:“Madam Speaker, one would think that during all this travel time on the plane, on the train, the member would have taken the opportunity to read and learn. That way he would see that his question is completely misplaced. So let me educate the member Madam Speaker and I want to turn his attention to the Constitution of Belize. I hope you have a copy of this, member. Part six section ninety of the Constitution of Belize. I beg your indulgence Madam Speaker if I can read from the constitution ? Section ninety says the Elections and Boundaries Commission shall after considering the distribution of the population throughout Belize make proposals from time to time for dividing Belize into electoral divisions.” Subsection three says “The proposal of the commission made pursuant to this section shall be laid before the National Assembly by the Chairman of the Commission and electoral divisions specified in these proposals shall be the electoral divisions of Belize for the purposes of an law for the time being in course relating to the election of members of the House of Representatives.” Section ninety one goes further. “Any redivision of electoral divisions effected in accordance with section ninety of this constitution shall in respect of the election of members of the House of Representatives come into operation at the next general election held after such redivision and not earlier.” Finally Madam Speaker turning to section eighty eight of the constitution. “There shall be an Elections and Boundaries Commission which shall consist of a chairman and four other members who shall be persons of integrity and high national standing.” Subsection two “The chairman and two other members of the Elections and Boundaries Commission shall be appointed by the Governor General acting in accordance in advice of the Prime Minister given after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition and the remaining two members shall be appointed by the Governor General acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister given with the concurrence of the Leader of the Opposition.” Madam Speaker so the answer to the member’s question is thus: Number one, redistricting is an exercise to be conducted by the Elections and Boundaries Commission not the Minister responsible for Elections and Boundaries. Number two, the Elections and Boundaries Commission consists of representation from the government side and the opposition’s side. So there already exists a bipartisan commission member albeit one with representatives of the opposition not recommended by the member for Mesopotamia in his brief stint as Leader of the Opposition.”