Belize/Guatemala Referendum Deadline extended

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 12, No. 42            October 31, 2002

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    Press Release - Office of the Prime Minister, October 24, 2002 - Prime Minister Said Musa, after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Dean Barrow, and with his agreement, announced that he has decided to withdraw from the Orders of the Day of the House of Representatives meeting scheduled for Friday, 25 October, the resolution relating to a Referendum.

    A letter from the Facilitators, dated 24 October 2002, addressed to the Foreign Ministers of Guatemala and Belize, states in its relevant part that, "It has now become clear to us that practical difficulties may make it unrealistic to adhere to (the) deadline for holding of the referenda. Accordingly, we wish to invite the Parties to work instead towards holding the national referenda as soon as mutually convenient.We emphasize, of course, the importance we continue to attach to the referenda being held as early as practicable."

    Since the referenda will not be held by 30 November as originally envisaged, and since no new date has yet been agreed, it is unnecessary to proceed with the Resolution in the House.

    The Facilitators made it clear in their letter that the proposed date for the referenda had been a "procedural recommendation" as a pre-condition to the implementation of the Proposals, and not a part of the Proposals themselves.

    The Prime Minister notes that Belize was and is ready to comply with the deadline set by the Facilitators for the holding of the referenda, but recognizes that the Facilitators recommended that the referenda be held on the same day in both countries.

    In the same letter above referred to, the Facilitators have asked the Parties to agree to a meeting at Ministerial level at the OAS in Washington with Secretary General Gaviria and the Facilitators on Tuesday, 5 November.They propose that apart from the issue of referenda, the meeting should also deal with the further extension of the Confidence Building Measures and with the OAS Mission report on the issue of the encroachments into Belize across the western border by the Melchor de Mencos municipality.We are awaiting the recommendations of the Facilitators to settle this issue.
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