Opposition Senators Absent from Budget Debate: Allegations of Political Interference Surface

Opposition Senators Absent from Budget Debate: Allegations of Political Interference Surface

As the popular adage goes, there are two sides to every story.  It turns out that the absence of the opposition Senators today had to do with late paperwork.  Leader of the Opposition, Moses Shyne Barrow, says he is seeking legal advice on what he says was a deliberate move by the Acting Governor General, Stuart Leslie, to keep the opposition senators from appearing at today’s debate. According to Barrow, he submitted the paperwork on Friday, and last night, he phoned Leslie, informing him that the opposition had sought the office’s approval to appoint a new Senator and two temporary senators. However, he claims Leslie intentionally dragged his feet with approving the request, which restricted Barrow’s new appointees from entering the meeting. Today, Barrow called a press conference and explained that, in his opinion, the situation is the result of political mischief. 

Moses “Shyne” Barrow, Leader of the Opposition: “His job as acting GG is to facilitate. He’s not doing us a favor. I’m sure he gets paid to act. That office is financed for the people’s business it’s not a favor for Shyne Barrow. It is for our democracy. So if there was a problem at three and there were clarifications that needed to be made you don’t just say ‘Oh I’m not doing this.’ You call the GG, you call me, if I need to send different instruments – there have been times where I may have quoted,  they had an issue with the part of the constitution I quoted. The GG’s office has been gracious enough to say you know please correct the section that you’ve quoted so that we can proceed. So I’m not laying this at the foot of the actual GG, I’m talking about the CabSec, the political hack Stuart Leslie. What I’m saying is at three o’clock he should have contacted the AG how do we proceed you know we need to get this done, we need to facilitate the appointment of the Leader of the Opposition. He doesn’t have any discretion to say ‘Oh well I don’t know what to do with this.’ No if you don’t know you consult with the Attorney General and whatever needed to be done, if they would have said alright so you can say well with the temporary Senator for Beverly Williams we can’t do a temporary senator anymore the permanent senator needs to come, even if it’s short notice no problem. But we should have had our senators there then what’s the problem with Franklin Polonio who is standing in for the permanent Senator Honorable Michael Peyrefitte? Why not send his instrument ? To me its s deliberate. It is Stuart Leslie being John Briceno’s speechwriter, senior advisor trying to undermine the opposition and sabotage our democracy.”

Barrow went on to explain that such instances reduce the country’s democratic values. He says that he is hoping to meet with the Governor General upon her return to the country to discuss ways of improving the appointment of Senators.

Moses “Shyne” Barrow, Leader of the Opposition: “This is abhorrent. We need to appreciate this. People, the press, everyone “Oh we need a strong opposition.” So when we see the government abusing their power to weaken the opposition we must all be up in arms. If you know my colleagues one had a death, one is recuperating from surgery and everybody rail up “Oh how come they don’t come to the House meeting.” when they have legitimate excuses. Now we have Mr.Polonio traveling all the way from the great town of Punta Gorda, from the great district of Toledo all the way there early early this morning to come and represent because part of my appointment requisite is diversity, I try to have regional inclusion and gender inclusion. So I go around the country not just Belize City. So I gathered from the south Ms. Madina she’s from the west, former deputy mayor of the San Ignacio Santa Elena Township. It’s important that the opposition have its opportunity to debate the budget on behalf of the Belizean people. I’m not sure how it was  dealt with before but I am saying personally I don’t have anything against Mr.Leslie but I take him for what he is. He is a PUP fanatic that only things politics. I would have liked to give him the benefit of the doubt and think that he could rise to the occasion of professionalism and conduct himself in a manner suitable to act in that position where the head of state is supposed to be the neutral entity. Even to this day you know Sir Colville Young even I call him at times and he’s very careful you know, doesn’t even want to take a picture with me because he doesn’t want to be political.” 

Documentation shows that Barrow submitted his request on Friday, March 22.

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