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“Presumptive”

Tuesday, October 13, 2020
Dear Editor,
A  BPM  filing for a Supreme Court injunction on the conducting of  General Elections on 11th November, subject to redistricting of constituencies, if denied, will likely result in the elevation of the matter to the CCJ. There, in my assessment, that Court will reverse the decision of the Supreme Court, thus validating the injunction request. This will require the GOB to conduct the sought-for redistricting exercise prior to conducting the General Elections, the date of which will have to be rescheduled.

 On the other hand, if the Supreme Court approves the injunction, the question is whether the GOB will appeal. If so, this may go all the way to the CCJ, where I believe the CCJ is likely to validate the Supreme Court’s decision. The redistricting exercise could then proceed, requiring redistricted constituencies, by means of an amendment of the ROPA (Representation of the People Act). This will necessitate a reconvening of the National Assembly, according to Section 84(5) of the Belize Constitution, which the PM may feel compelled to invoke so that he can request that the Governor General, on the basis of this ‘emergency,’ reconvene the National Assembly in order for the amendments to be passed. Dissolution would occur on a new date — the day “on which polls are held in the next ensuing general election” (as stated in that section of the Constitution).

  The short of it is there would be no impediment to enabling constituency redistricting to occur, save a CCJ denial of the BPM injunction filing.

(BC Section 84 (5) : If, between a dissolution of the National Assembly and the next ensuing general election of members of the House of Representatives, an emergency arises of such a nature that, in the opinion of the Prime Minister, it is necessary for the two Houses or either of them to be summoned before that general election can be held, the Governor-General may, by proclamation published in the Gazette, summon the two Houses of the preceding National Assembly and that National Assembly shall thereupon be deemed (except for the purposes of section 85 of this Constitution) not to have been dissolved but shall be deemed (except as aforesaid) to be dissolved on the date on which the polls are held in the next ensuing general election.)

(Section 85(1) reads:

A general election of members of the House of Representatives shall be held at such time within three months after every dissolution of the National Assembly as the Governor-General, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister, shall appoint.)

David Gibson
Centre for Strategic Studies, Policy Analysis & Research (CSSPAR)
26 Mahogany St.
Belmopan, Belize

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