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Anthony Chanona to chair People’s Constitutional Commission?

HighlightsAnthony Chanona to chair People’s Constitutional Commission?

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. July 21, 2022
The People’s Constitutional Commission (PCC) is the body that is being assembled to carry out one of the most significant projects to be undertaken in the country—the formulation of the laws that will be a part of a new, modernized Constitution of Belize. Last Friday, the first reading of an Act to put in place the legal groundwork for the formation of that body was carried out in the House of Representatives by Minister of Public Service, Constitutional and Political Reform and Religious Affairs, Hon. Henry Charles Usher. There have now been reports that the person appointed to sit as chairperson of the commission is former Belmopan mayor and former PUP senator, Anthony Chanona, who is also the father of current NGO senator Janelle Chanona and the father-in-law of Minister Usher.

Somehow, however these initial reports morphed into another claim that was made by media houses owned by the Opposition—that Chanona was in fact appointed to be the chairman of the Public Services Commission. It was a post that led to a flood of angry social media posts.


Those claims, however, have been officially refuted by the Ministry of Public Service, Constitutional and Political Reform, which late yesterday evening issued a statement which indicated that the reports by the Guardian Newspaper and Hot Off The Press regarding the appointment are false.
“It has become necessary to set the record straight. It is not true that Mr. Anthony Chanona has been appointed as Chairman of the Public Commission,” the Ministry said in response to the article titled “Possible Conflict of Interest, Minister’s Father In Law To Chair Public Service Commission.”


It must be noted that while the Ministry has publicly stated that Chanona has not been appointed to chair the Public Services Commission, it did not deny reports of his appointment to the post of chairman of the very important PCC, which would mean that Chanona, who has been viewed by most Belizeans as someone who displayed integrity when he held public office, will be at least partially subject to the directives of his son-in-law, the Minister overseeing the commission, Hon. Henry Charles Usher.


A second and third reading of the Act that legally establishes the People’s Constitutional Commission are yet to take place in the House of Representatives, and KREM News has reported that the appointment of Chanona is yet in the consultation phase. As part of that consultation process prior to the appointment, Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño is said to have reached out to the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Moses “Shyne” Barrow, to get his comments. According to the KREM News report, “once a response is received, then the appointment can be finalized.” Reports are indicating, however, that Hon. Barrow has said that the topic was only mentioned by the PM in passing, and no serious consultations were done on the appointment.  


Last night, the Leader of the Opposition issued a statement in which he said, “We object to the appointment of Mr. Chanona due to him being a former PUP Mayor, the father-in-law of Constitutional Reform Minister Henry Charles and having no qualifications that I know of in Constitutional Law as a lecturer or lawyer; no qualifications as a human rights or civil rights activist or the sort.”


Hon. Barrow further asserted in the statement, “Such a crucial appointment requires an apolitical person whose integrity is beyond reproach but also someone who has expertise in Constitutional Law, Human Rights and Social Justice. Let us not politicize the sacred Constitution of our Nation. There are many qualified persons who are not related to the PUP Minister in charge of Constitution. Let us preserve the integrity of this much needed process to reform our Constitution by appointing a qualified non political Chair.”

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