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#413652 - 08/11/11 09:16 AM Constitutional Consultation Or Political Circus?
Marty Offline
The first public consultation on the proposed ninth amendment to the constitution will start in the next half an hour at the Holy Redeemer Parish Hall.

John Saldivar, who is the Chairman of the Constitution and Foreign Affairs Committee which will host the countrywide consultation, told us what he's expecting, allowing and encouraging tonight.

Hon. John Saldivar - Chairman of the Constitution and Foreign Affairs Committee
"Well I'm expecting that the people Belize City will turn out, first of all, to get clarification, and to voice their opinions, and in some cases, concerns about the 9th amendment. And we as the committee are there to listen."

Jules Vasquez
"Now, your colleague, Boots Martinez, has said that he is bringing out en mass. Are you concerned that the atmosphere will turn into that of a political rally?"

Hon. John Saldivar
"Well, having made the announcement publicly, I believe that the appropriate authorities, especially the police, are prepared for whatever crowd comes out there tonight."

Jules Vasquez
"But, having participated in numerous consultations, do you support any side lending an atmosphere that is not of a political value, and not of a genuine consultation?"

Hon. John Saldivar
"I do not believe that the presence of persons who support the position of the Government, represents a political rally. Neither do I believe that the presence of persons supporting those who oppose the amendment equals a political rally. I believe that the question that has been on many people's minds in the last couple of weeks, is this the will of the people? Tonight we will get a taste of whether it is so or not."

Jules Vasquez
"Now, I imagine there will be a plurality - a multiplicity - of opinions tonight. How will you weigh - how will you select who gets to speak?"

Hon. John Saldivar
"We're going to try to hear as many opinions as possible. We're certainly going to have to have some time limits as to how long somebody can make a presentation. But, other than that, they'll be picked at random, who gets in the line first I imagine."

Jules Vasquez
"But, if for example, Lisa Shoman is standing up to speak, who is a). from an opposing party, and b). has already spoken on a number fora about her perspective on it, would someone, perhaps more anonymous, be given preference?"

Hon. John Saldivar
"While we will make the announcement that we would prefer to hear from those who haven't spoken on it the issue, there is no way we can limit persons from speak except by time. I guess there will be slight change my approach, in that while I've been an advocate thus far, talking on behalf of Governments position, tonight I believe we're all there as committee members to listen to the public."

Jules Vasquez
"Now, are you prepared to actually listen? It appears that the UDP is - the Barrow Administration - is completely determined to make this into the law. Are you all prepared to hear, and to accept that regular people may be rejecting this?"

Hon. John Saldivar
"If we are completely determined to do so, it is because we are completely determined that it is the will of the people. And I'm sure that if we ever get the sense that it is not the will of the people, this is an administration that listens."

As we understand it, there are rules for tonight's event, such as no political placards inside the hall and the requirement that all persons entering will be searched.

We'll have full coverage of the event on tomorrow night's newscast.

It is sure to be very crowded, and likely very contentious as both mass parties are mobilizing their political armies, while pressure groups and regular citizens are also expected to be there.

Channel 7

#413663 - 08/11/11 09:30 AM Re: Constitutional Consultation Or Political Circus? [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Consultation on 9th Amendment opens to large crowd

The first round of public consultations on the proposed ninth amendment is scheduled to start shortly at the Holy Redeemer Parish Hall. From what we gather, the turnout is expected to be large despite trepidation that the proceedings will be railroaded by hotheads. Employees of the Ministry of Works told us that they have been given time off during their day shift from the poverty alleviation project to come out as part of the organized cheering gallery. The Unions, Chamber of Commerce, Council of Churches and other organizations have called on their members to be present for the discussion on one of the most controversial pieces of legislation to be presented by the government. The general feeling is that government ought not to alter the constitution to taking away fundamental rights from Belizeans and that politics should be removed from tonight’s consultations. We’ll have a report later on the newscast from ground zero where a news crew is on standby.

But earlier today, the most recent non-governmental organization to speak out against the proposed ninth amendment to the Belize Constitution is Belizeans for Justice (BFJ). Earlier today, the organization more known for its help with families of murder victims, sent out a press release denouncing the amendment. After doing its own due diligence, BFJ says that the ninth counters its core values and that of Belize’s constitutional democracy. BFJ supports nationalization of public utilities, however, it disagrees with the section of the amendment that limits the power of the courts and it suggests that nationalizations should also ensure that former owners of companies can seek redress in court. In conclusion, BFJ says it “joins the Bar Association of Belize, the Belize Chamber of Commerce and the Belize Council of Churches in calling upon the government to preserve the rule of law and withdraw the Ninth Amendment Bill.”

Channel 5


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