Redistricting Report to Be Tabled Amid Ongoing Controversy

Redistricting Report to Be Tabled Amid Ongoing Controversy

Another Bill coming up tomorrow is the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill 2024 which essentially has to do with the court-ordered Redistricting Exercise.  After almost a year, the government will be tabling the Redistricting Report for debate. Last July, the Elections and Boundaries Commission presented its proposals for redistricting after a review of the country’s current electoral landscape. The process began back in 2019 when the Belize Peace Movement (BPM) took the government to court to trigger the exercise. The NGO successfully got the court to issue a consent order, but rejected the proposed suggestions submitted to the government. The group has since gone back to the High Court in hopes of having the current voters list ruled as unconstitutional to force the government’s hand. This morning, Paul Morgan, the claimant in the case, appeared on The Morning Show to discuss the possibilities of the report being taken for debate in the HOR.

Paul Morgan, Representative, Belize Peace Movement: “In the House they can only do one of three things. They can continue what they’re doing now, which is to suspend it or defer it. That means that nothing happens and we depend on what the court is saying. They can reject it, which would be the best case scenario so that the court can do what it needs to do, or at least that we know that schedule one if they reject now, then the court, it leaves everything the same except that we don’t touch the proposals. The worst thing they can do is accept it because what would happen, and I hope Brother Arthur would expand on this, is that the National Assembly would be stepping on the courts knowing that they had already deferred it leaving space for legal action to take place. And now come right in the middle of legal action to accept something which changes the dynamics. If they reject it, then the court has the full leeway.”

The report recommended 28 electoral divisions with an equal share of elected voters across the country which aligns with what the Constitution which states that there should no less than 28 divisions. Attorney for BPM, Arthur Saldivar, explained that the current political landscape does not reflect equality among voters, particularly in rural areas.

Arthur Saldivar, Attorney at Law: “What is happening is that the rural communities that have these large populations and producing so much resources are being exploited by the smaller constituencies with small populations and one representative having more power around the table of parliament than those coming from your area. So Stank Creek West, you have no power but you’re producing bananas, you’re producing citrus, you’re producing, you have some of the best trade, tourism operations in the nation. You are the reason we have tourists coming by and large. San Pedro same way. Okay. Cayo you produce livestock, you produce citrus, you produce so many great resources in tourism and all these other avenues, farming, but you have no power. You are the producers. The city and these small constituencies are the consumers. So you are carrying their water. You are producing for them. You are their servants. No. This is not the way the Constitution intended us to live. We were to be equal, have equal say, equal benefit from all the resources of the nation.”

The presiding justice in the BPM’s most recent case is expected to deliver a ruling next month.  The House Meeting convenes at ten o’clock tomorrow morning.

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