The BTL/GOB saga will no doubt continue to unfold for some time to come, and really, there’s no way of predicting the outcome. Right about now, rationality and procedure seem to have done disappearing acts, the Constitution is apparently worth less than the paper it is typed on, Court decisions are ignored and the Police forces are used as personal militia by politicians. Anyway you cut it, it’s a royal and complicated mess. For clarification, we thought we would do a chronology of sorts, starting at 4:00pm on Friday when the judgment was handed down by the highest court in the land, the Belize Court of Appeal.
At that time, Justice Brian Alleyne handed down the basics of a 150 judgment – in a nutshell, the Prime Minister’s acquisition of BTL in August of 2009 was unconstitutional and he had no grounds to seize BTL for what he called ‘a public purpose. That seems clear enough.
By 4:30 former Chairman Dean Boyce and his attorney were allowed access to the BTL compound and Government’s appointed Chairman Net Vasquez had departed the premises. By 5:00pm, Boyce had convened a first meeting of the Board – that is, the Board before GOB’s takeover.
In an interview given shortly after to a local media house, the Prime Minister stated, and I quote – “I thought that in order to signal to the population at large our absolute respect for the decision of the Court that we should allow them to as it were move on that decision immediately. I didn’t see that there was anything useful to be gained from keeping them at bay. That might have turned ugly, that might have turned nasty, we might have had to use the Police and I didn’t think we would gain anything by that.”
That sounds eminently reasonable, especially in the face of the decision by the Court of Appeal. But by midnight on Friday, reports surfaced that Government had, like thieves in the night with Police escort, retaken BTL. Indications are that when Dean Boyce tried to re-enter the compound he was then barred by Police and BDF personnel. Those reports were backed up by a video we managed to get our hands on, shot late Friday night.
That was Friday night, and at mid-day on Saturday the Prime Minister had sent out a release which was an astounding about turn to his position on Friday. The release stated that GOB was not open to Mr. Boyce assuming control of BTL and furthermore, “Government thus instructed its appointee, the Executive Chairman and the Telemedia Board to continue in command of the company unless presented with a court order specifically placing the appellant Boyce in control.”
Government also, and I quote, “makes clear that it will fight any application for an enforcement order.”
And that’s where things stood up to this morning – Government was back in charge, backed up by the Police and the might of the military and Dean Boyce and company were on the outside looking in.
We’ll have today’s installment of the BTL/GOB saga in the second segment of the news. Stay tuned.