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No ICJ referendum on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 #535790
04/09/19 04:35 AM
04/09/19 04:35 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 70,292
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP
The Court of Appeal ruled on Monday, April 8th that it will uphold the referendum injunction granted to the People's United Party on April 3rd. This means that the national referendum on whether to settle the Guatemalan claim to Belize at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has been postponed until further notice.

The decision was made by a majority at the Court of Appeal, stating that it lacks jurisdiction to hold an Expedited Hearing.

The Government of Belize, who campaigned for a 'Yes' vote to the ICJ, was given the option to take the matter to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). Prime Minister Right Honourable Dean Barrow said in a press conference that they will do so in an attempt to have the CCJ lift the injunction.

The Prime Minister said: “I shall go to my grave secure in the knowledge that the Chief Justice got it horribly wrong.”

Re: No ICJ referendum on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 [Re: Marty] #535794
04/09/19 05:06 AM
04/09/19 05:06 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 70,292
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

Channel 7

GOB Forced to Postpone April 10th Referendum
There will be no referendum on April 10. It has been postponed 6 to 8 weeks. Government was forced to do this after they were turned down today by the court of appeal - which refused to hear an appeal of the Chief Justice's decision without the required 21 days' notice. We'll tell you all about that in a few minutes, but first to the Prime Minister who made the official announcement today that they will have to wheel and come again: Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister: "In consequence of what happened today we will be having a referendum on Wednesday April 10th. I am in no doubt that we will be having a referendum on going to the ICJ no later 6-8 weeks from the originally scheduled date."

The Court of Appeal Rejected GOB
So the takeaway from that is that there will be no referendum in April 10th - in the meantime the government will go to the house of representatives, possibly as early as Friday - and also to the Caribbean Court of Justice as soon as they can to get the Supreme Court injunction lifted. And so, now, back to court, for the explanation of what forced the PM to postpone the referendum: There was an entire day of arguments in front of the judges of the Court of Appeal. Government went there to convince the panel of judges there to set the Chief Justice's injunction aside. But, the first issue that the Government had to contend with is that they needed permission from the court to bring the expedited appeal.

AG Weighs The Possibilities
Earlier in the day, we got a chance to speak with Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte about the progress of the legal arguments from both sides. Since no decision was made yet, The press questioned him about the possibility of the two outcomes: one in which the Government is successful, and the other - which has now happened - where the court refuses their applications. Here's how that conversation went at the midday adjournment of Court: Hon. Michael Peyrefitte - Attorney General: "There are 2 applications. One is the notice of motion for expedited appeal, and the other one is the notice of appeal for the injunction itself. The Court of Appeal must first decide if they will even hear us on our disagreement with the Chief Justice that he should have granted the injunction. The Chief Justice granted the injunction, remember, and we want the Court of Appeal hear the merits of that issue only, and hopefully reverse it in our favor..."

Chief Elections Officer - Did AG Advice Put Her in A Position of Contempt?
And the frenzied preparations for the referendum, which has now been postponed, placed Chief Elections Officer Josephine Tamai in the crosshairs of the PUP. You'll remember that email that she sent last week to all public officers shortly after the Chief Justice handed down the injunction. It said, quote, "Based on legal advice, please proceed with all plans unless directed otherwise We need to be fully prepared in the event that the court informs that we proceed on April 10th." She and her team were simply trying to be cautious and prepared in the event that the Government could reverse the injunction, but the PUP accused her of acting in contempt of court.

Why Tamai?
We also asked Eamon Courtenay, the attorney for the PUP Claimants, to discuss their dispute with that email from Chief Elections Officer Tamai. He said that it was important for his clients to put it before the Court of Appeal: Eamon Courtenay, SC - Attorney for the Claimants: "When an injunction is issued you are to obey it. On the say when the injunction was issued, on the advice of the attorney general, the chief elections officer ordered her staff to proceed with preparations. Now, we believe that was an important matter to bring to the attention of the court, because depending on fay you go and depending on what you do, it may amount to a contempt. The government of Belize whether it is the chief elections officer, the attorney general, the prime minister or whoever must respect an injunction issued by the chief justice..."

The April 10th Anticlimax
So, what happens to all the time and effort that went into preparing for April 10th? Well, from the Attorney General's perspective, it cannot go to waste. He told us that it will be very expensive for all concerned to postpone, which is why the Government was fighting so hard to keep the April 10th date. Here's how he explained why: Michael Peyrefitte: "A lot of preparation has been put into making sure this referendum happens April 10th. A lot of time has been taken away from public servants in order for them to prepare for this referendum. We have all the observers, most of them are already in country. We have everything in place for April 10th to push it back to another date and we will if we have to, but to push this back another date would cause considerable expense and just overall, you know, it would be troublesome to have it beyond April 10th. If we have to, we have to, but it would be very uncomfortable and expensive to extend it some more time. So we are trying to preserve, save some money, save some harassment and have it April 10th if we can."

Will Postponement Slacken Domestic and Int'l Support For Referendum?
The Prime Minister also spoke about cost today and slackening support from the international community - and we'll have those remarks later, but, firsthere's what he had to say about the PUP's so far successful campaign to block the referendum: Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister: "All this is part of the Opposition's delay tactics and to my mind amount to an effort to stymie Belizean democracy, to deprive the people of this country of their right to choose. While I deplore what is happening on the part of the opposition and I should say what Michael Peyrefitte told me and what is given me leave to say that the leader of the opposition told him today "you can go to parliament to try to fix this" and it would appear, some people obviously think so, that it is an easy fix. But whatever you do we will oppose."

Will Judicial Setbacks Taint Confidence in Yes Vote?
Back now to the Prime Minister's press conference. WE asked him about the effect that successive losses in court have had on the "yes" t the ICJ campaign: Reporter: "This is the second court or second tier of litigation at which the government has not had the desired outcome." Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister: "True." Reporter: "Are you not concern about the taint that this creates, since the referendum is about going to court and we are stuck in court trying to go to court. People will may confidence and say well if you can't win here, how will you win there."

The Cost OF Postponing The Referendum
So, as we end the news tonight - we do so with the headline story - there will be no referendum on Wednesday April 10th. Government has to re-strategize and come again. This is after the Court of Appeal said it needs 21 days before it can hear any appeal of a Supreme Court decision. So the Chief Justice's injunction against the referendum stands. To try and cure what the Chief Justice suspected may be lacking in the writ of referendum - government is getting ready to go to the Caribbean Court of Justice, to lift the injunction, and the House of Representatives to get majority support. But., at what cost? And will there be money to keep up the education and the political campaign? We asked the PM today:

Channel 5

P.U.P. – 2, G.O.B. – 0, No Referendum on April Tenth
Both the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal were in session today as Belizeans waited anxiously for what is to happen on April tenth. Would the referendum stand?  We [...]

A Renewed Call for a Bipartisan Approach to I.C.J. Referendum
Opposition Leader John Briceño has taken the opportunity, following the decision of the Court of Appeal this evening, to call on Prime Minister Barrow to return to the bipartisan approach [...]

PM Barrow: “We will not be having a referendum on Wednesday, April tenth”
Immediately after the ruling of the Court of Appeal upholding the injunction, the Prime Minister held a lengthy press conference at the Laing Building. P.M. Dean Barrow accepted that the [...]

G.O.B. Looks to the C.C.J. for Possible Appeal
So what the government’s next move? More litigation….According to Prime Minister Dean Barrow, the government will be looking at the Caribbean Court of Justice for another appeal, though that appeal [...]

G.O.B. Will “Fix” the Law
Many observers have been asking why the Barrow Administration hasn’t taken the matter to the House of Representatives to fix what he described as the possible mischief that the Chief [...]

Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte Outlines G.O.B.’s Appeal
For context of the day’s proceedings, when the session opened this morning, submissions were made by the government side as to why the appeals court should hear the matter expeditiously [...]

Chief Elections Officer in Contempt of Court?
Was Chief Elections Officer Josephine Tamai in contempt of court last Wednesday when she sent out a memo following the CJ’s decision to grant an interim injunction?  Senior Counsel Eamon [...]

Weighing the Options of a Reserved Court of Appeal Judgment
The Attorney General also told the media that the urgency on proceeding with the April tenth referendum was simply because a great deal of time and resources has already been [...]

U.D.P. Stalwarts Ready to Go to the Polls
According to AG Peyrefitte, the membership of the United Democratic Party has been expressing its readiness to go to the polls.  Of course, this was prior to the Court of [...]

Re: No ICJ referendum on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 [Re: Marty] #535810
04/10/19 04:55 AM
04/10/19 04:55 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 70,292
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

Opposition Leader John Briceno released a prerecorded video statement responding to the ruling of the Court of Appeal and remarks made by Prime Minister Dean Barrow following that ruling.

"The UDP insists that submitting the Guatemalan Claim to the ICJ MUST go to the people for decision, by way of a referendum. This national issue should not be subject to personal biases or agendas of any politician"

The Court of Appeal ruled in favor of the People's United Party's and upheld the injunction to postpone the ICJ Referendum. Richard "Dickie" Bradley helped us recap and put into perspective the day's events and discussed possible next steps.

Channel 7

PM Determined to Make Way to ICJ
Tonight we should be on the eve of the biggest referendum in Belize's history, and possibly the most important vote of your lifetime. But instead, it's the April 10th. anticlimax: after one year of preparation for this single day - yesterday all that buildup was dashed when the Court of Appeal refused to hear the application to set aside a Supreme Court injunction against the referendum. That left the injunction standing and the referendum - standing by. So, the situation tonight is that government is taking this as a postponement and wants to hold the injunction in 6 - 8 weeks. But, right now that is more of a wish than an expression of will - because there is no clear path to quickly discharge the injunction, while also getting the referendum back on track - in such a way that it cannot be blocked again by the opposition.

No Referendum, Yes Classes Tomorrow
And the government has also changed its position on another decision announced yesterday. As we told you last night, despite the referendum being postponed, the Minister of Education Patrick Faber told us that Wednesday would still be a non-school day. Schoolchildren all over the land were rejoicing about that one but, by this morning that position had been reversed. This morning at 10:00 - two hours after encouraging all media to notify the public via the morning shows that there would be no school tomorrow - the Ministry sent out this slightly sheepish notice to the press: "After deliberations and consultations with the senior management team of the Ministry of Education and the Prime Minister, the MOE declares tomorrow Wednesday April 10 a school day. Kindly take note and advise those concerned."

Chief Elections Officer Speaks About Referendum Wasted Efforts
So, while your children might be disappointed that that they don't get to stay home tomorrow for a mid week break, they can't be more unhappy than the staff at the Elections and Boundaries Department. They and the many public officers who were appointed to act as oversight at the 344 polls countrywide have been labouring at a feverish pitch for months now, often working extended hours into the evenings, the nights, and even the weekends. We had an interview with Chief Elections Officer Josephine Tamai this afternoon to discuss the come-down from all those months of buildup. She told us that her office and the government spent over a million dollars to prepare for the referendum, only to be told less than 48 hours before the appointed date, that it has been postponed. Here's that conversation:

Tamai Explains Why
The Chief Elections Officer almost got into trouble with the court for simply trying to do her job to the best of her ability. You'll remember that in the Government's application to the Appeal court to bring the expedited appeal, the PUP accused her of being in contempt of court. That's after that now well-known email last week, which she sent to returning officers and elections clerks. She instructed those public officers to finish up elections preparations in the event that the injunction was lifted, and the referendum was given the green-light for tomorrow's date. In that email, she said, quote, "Based on legal advice, please proceed with all plans unless directed otherwise We need to be fully prepared in the event that the court informs that we proceed on April 10th."

Opposition Leader Says Do It Right
So while we have heard from the Prime Minister and the Chief Elections Officer - right now, they are just re-actor's; the actor who is in the driver's seat is the leader of the opposition John Briceno. So what is his end game? Is it just a chess match to put the government in check? And to what end? What does his strategy mean for the referendum? Does he wish to put it - as others in his party have proposed - in a 25 year deep freeze? This evening he sent out a statement saying that he supports the referendum but government has to get it right. Here's an excerpt:..

UDP Blasts PUP, So Does Sir Ronald
And while Briceno says he supports the referendum, and wants to get it right, the UDP sent out a breathless press release saying Briceno wants to do no less than, quote, "block the democratic right of Belizeans," end quote. The statement adds, quote, "The UDP denounces the PUP's zealous campaign to take away the constitutional right of Belizeans; they do NOT want Belizeans to vote on this matter - they want the politicians to decide." It closes dramatically, saying, quote, "A Referendum delayed is Democracy denied!" On a slightly more tempered note, well regarded Caribbean commentator Sir Ronald Saunders has weighed in and drawn a parallel between the Belize situation and BREXIT.

Channel 5

PM Barrow Gives Latest Update on I.C.J. Referendum
Cabinet met late this afternoon at the prime minister’s office here in Belize City, a departure from its usual meeting place at the Sir Edney Cain Building in Belmopan.  High [...]

PM Barrow Dismisses Idea of a Mutual Decision to Delay I.C.J. Referendum
The Prime Minister also told News Five that he had received correspondence from Opposition Leader John Briceño.  Briceño is requesting that the PM calls off a meeting of the House [...]

New Legislation to be Passed, but No New Referendum Date as Yet
With all the new developments in the referendum debacle and a legal prescription to fix what’s wrong with the existing act, a new date for Belizeans to go to the [...]

Opposition Leader Bashes PM; Defends Judiciary over Recent Rulings
Opposition Leader John Briceño this evening released a prerecorded video statement responding to the ruling of the Court of Appeal and remarks made by Prime Minister Dean Barrow following that [...]

The Prime Minister and the Judiciary; Are They at Odds?
On the heels of two consecutive losses in the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal, the government is convening a sitting of the House of Representatives this Friday to [...]

More Monies to be Sourced for I.C.J. Referendum Campaign
Following the decision of the Court of Appeal on Monday, Prime Minister Dean Barrow told the nation that he has no doubt that the I.C.J. referendum will be held no [...]

Re: No ICJ referendum on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 [Re: Marty] #535811
04/10/19 05:09 AM
04/10/19 05:09 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 70,292
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP
“This government is determined to have a referendum”, PM Barrow said

Following the ruling by the Court of Appeal late this evening which turned down government’s application for an expedited hearing to set aside an interim injunction granted by Chief Justice Hon. Kenneth Benjamin last Wednesday to restrain government from proceeding with a referendum on April 10 (to determine whether to take the Guatemalan claim to the ICJ), Prime Minister Dean Barrow called a press conference and announced that “the referendum will be held between 6 to 8 weeks from the originally scheduled date.”

Barrow said that he wanted to be clear about a number of things and declared, “I have tried to keep my campaign for a yes vote above partisan politics.” The Prime Minister of Belize then went on to blame the Opposition, the People’s United Party (PUP), for the legal fiasco that the ICJ referendum has turned out to be in the local courts.

“All this is part of the Opposition’s delay tactics, and to my mind amount to an effort to stymie the Belizean democracy, to deny the people of this country their right…,” Barrow claimed.

“It’s not that the Chief Justice’s injunction was upheld, it is that the court could not hear our appeal against that injunction until after 21 days,” Barrow reasoned in an attempt to save face after yet another court defeat.

The appeal against the issuance of the injunction by Chief Justice Benjamin was not heard, Barrow said.

The government’s plan is now “to get before the Caribbean Court of Justice quickly for the hearing of the appeal which the Court of Appeal couldn’t hear,” said Barrow.

Barrow explained that he had gotten advice from some Caribbean “luminaries” and that he is convinced that “the Chief Justice had it horribly wrong.”

The Prime Minister said that he will go to the House of Representatives to have a legislative fix of the technical error that the Chief Justice found.

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