BELIZE CITY, Mon. Jan. 3, 2022– The Belize Peace Movement (BPM) and the Government of Belize have been locked in a legal battle since October of 2019 due to the BPM’s efforts to have the Supreme Court issue an order for a redistricting exercise to be carried out in the country so that voters are equally distributed across the nation’s constituencies. According to a press release issued by the Belize Peace Movement this morning, the chairman of the Elections and Boundaries Commission, Oscar Sabido, has filed an application for the Supreme Court to strike out the redistricting case and has presented two reasons for the application.
According to the BPM release, those two reasons presented by Sabido, on behalf of the commission, are “1. That the claimant had failed to file Witness statements when required to do so and that 2. The Election and Boundaries Commission has set up the administrative machinery to carry out the redistricting exercise and made an estimate of the funds required.”
Recently, the Government of Belize opted to set into motion the initial phase of a purported redistricting exercise, and the Minister responsible for the Public Service, Hon. Henry Usher, has publicly stated that it is pointless for the BPM to continue to pursue the case, since the Elections and Boundaries Commission has already begun a comprehensive review of the electoral divisions with a view of completing the work by mid-2023.
Today, BPM representative, Paul Morgan, stated during an interview that while the Elections and Boundaries Commission remains an autonomous body, the move to now set up a body to begin the redistricting process while a case is currently before the court does not satisfy the Belize Peace Movement’s demands.
He said that the witness statements in question were filed late due to a glitch in the court’s online filing system.
The organization says that the case is hinged on ensuring fair representation for all Belizeans, by ensuring that the electoral divisions are demarcated so that a nearly equal number of constituents is within each of them. While the body set up by the E&B Commission is expected to carry out this task, the Belize Peace Movement feels that the case must be seen through to the end to ensure that the electoral landscape in Belize never becomes this disproportionate again.
Morgan said that the expert report issued as a part of the case and financed by Lord Michael Ashcroft merely serves as guidance that can be used by the commission, but at this point, they are fighting to prevent the case from being thrown out. The release stated that Arthur Saldivar, attorney for the BPM, had noted “several legal precedents amply demonstrating the frivolous nature of the Elections and Boundaries Chairman’s application.”
“The claimants are resolute and steadfast in their assertion that the current listing of electors as defined under Section 6 of the Representation of the Peoples Act contravenes Section 90(1) of the Belize Constitution to the extent that any election held under that Schedule is ultra vires the constitution and therefore null and void. We assert this blight on our democracy has persisted for too long under the administration of both major pollical parties,” the release states.