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Government & Politics

PM dampens chances of Belizean Citizens Abroad in ICJ Vote

Earlier this year, the long-awaited re-registration process commenced and one of the requirements was that persons had to be living at their present address for at least two-months; this automatically disqualified the thousands of Belizeans living abroad. A group of Belizeans in the diaspora organized themselves into Belizean Citizens Abroad, an association which is hoping to canvas the Government to give them rights to vote in the April 10, 2019 referendum. PUP Caribbean Shores Area Representative and attorney Kareem Musa drafted a bill he was unable to have read yesterday since the law stipulates it must be read in an ordinary sitting of the House, not a special sitting. Prime Minister Barrow said he believed there is no issue with registering Belizeans who have a family address in Belize to vote in the referendum. However, they would have to come home.

Honorable Dean Barrow Prime Minister of Belize: “No misunderstanding. I did speak to the Honorable member and I commend him for the initiative that he has taken together with Belizeans in the Diaspora. Please if you will allow me to perhaps come close without actually crossing the line of the anticipation violation but if I can just generally say that perhaps trying to steer clear of the violation of the rules, without getting into the member’s bill and the actual contents maybe I can just set out some general principles that our side would be able to live with. There is no difficulty, as I understand that members of this side of the house, with allowing Belizeans who have some kind of family address in this country to register so that they might be able to vote in the referendum. Now the question as to whether such a thing finds favor with the majority of Belizeans living at home is another one. I suspect if we were to have any chance of gauging that sort of sentiment we would have to have second referendum on that but for ourselves we have no difficulty with the question of registration. We would understand though that such persons who would want to register would be obliged to come home, we would be happy to waive the,,,,,

Madam Speaker: Prime Minister you are starting the conversation you know, I think you are right at that line.

Honorable Prime Minister: “Forgive me Madam Speaker, forgive me but I don’t want for there to be any misunderstanding. I want to make clear  that what has been mooted so far, not necessarily by the Honorable Member has to do only with the question of registration which may be fine so far as it goes but when you start to get into mechanics and infrastructure and how things would work therein lies the rub.  The common placed phrase that the devil is in the details is very much going to be in issue in these circumstances. So all I am trying to do is say that sympathy for a principle is not the same as suggesting that there is any commitment to the end product of the process that would be suggested in terms of trying realize that principle and perhaps I can leave it there.

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