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The BPM Continues to Push for a Redistricting of Electoral Divisions

The Belize Peace Movement (BPM) continues its push for the redistricting of the electoral divisions. The group had filed an application in the Belize Supreme Court in an attempt to force the government to engage in the constitutionally required exercise. The last ruling from the court was that both the claimants and the government should work at settling the matter. The BPM, however, says the government has since rejected several draft proposals they had submitted, creating an impasse on the situation. According to BPM’s Treasurer Paul Morgan, the group is merely looking to ensure that the Belize Constitution is adhered to.

Paul Morgan, Treasurer, BPM: “To bring us up to date we have gone through negotiations with the Elections and Boundaries Commission they’re the legal representative of that organization and really there seems to be an unwillingness to negotiate or to bring this whole governance, this whole representation in the country into equity. I can’t tell the reason why because as you know Ernesto this administration promised that within one hundred days we would have re-registration going. One hundred days of their administration now today you find that we have litigated this matter for more time under this PUP administration than we have under the UDP administration. That is very strange and disappointing. Part of the civil procedures in this country is that the court can ask, the court can order actually litigants to get out there and negotiate, try to do this out of court and I think the court is correct in doing that in ordering us to sit down and negotiate because the court can’t – I doubt if the court can see any litigable matter in this. After all how can you say that 1,900 persons in a Fort George is almost equal to 10,000 voters in Stann Creek West? How can you say that 2,200 voters in Queen Square is equal to 9,800 in Belmopan ? That is case closed. The court is correct in asking us to negotiate but what the question is why won’t the Elections and Boundaries under the leadership of Mr.Sabido why won’t they decide that this is the right thing to do ? That is the question that I’d like answered.”

Responding to the argument that Government has pressing economic challenges to address right now, Morgan says that the inequalities in the divisions are so glaring, that this issue must be prioritized.

Paul Morgan, Treasurer, BPM: “We the claimants have informed the court through out legal representative that the Elections and Boundaries Commission has been given a consent order, a draft. They have rejected it without any kind of counteroffer so it is an organization that we are not talking to so we have to use the next legal option is to go back to the court to say listen why don’t you make a ruling on this. And the ruling that we want is very simple. Declare that the constituencies are not as required by the constitution which that should be no problem for the court to decide, it’s obvious. And when that is declared then we can move on to other issues, other options because if our court is saying that the constitution isn’t being adhered to then we are really out of whack in the whole country. So it is up to the Elections and Boundaries Commission to do its job and we are not playing around at all. It is not their issue this is national issue.”

The Briceno Administration had agreed in Cabinet in July this year to proceed with a plan to undertake the redistricting exercise. Minister Henry Charles Usher was to head the formulation of that plan. The BPM had pursued the matter in the courts since 2019, but both the then Barrow administration and the Briceno opposition clamored that the court had no jurisdiction to intervene on the matter. Additionally, the BPM had filed for an injunction to stop the election in November 2020 but by the time the case came up the National Assembly had already been dissolved. The redistricting exercise seeks to evaluate the 31 electoral divisions with an aim to make them more equal and balanced.