Following the amendment of the Referendum act in cabinet next week, the Senate is expected to meet, where the ratification of the 2008 ICJ Special Agreement, which will allow both countries to proceed independently of each other to hold a referendum on whether to send the claim to the International Court of Justice, is expected to take place. This ratification, according to Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wilfred Elrington, opens the doors for Belize to commence the process of a referendum as soon as possible.

Screen_Shot_2016-11-24_at_8.03.24_PMHonorable Wilfred Elrington – Minister of Foreign Affairs

“The Special Agreement which we signed in 2008 and the Protocol to that Special Agreement which we signed later on in 2015, the intention is to really is to go through all the formalities and that is part of the formality and to access the ICJ for us to be able to go to the ICJ we had to pass this Special Agreement which will allow us to go to the ICJ subject to the consent of our people given our referendum, when we signed the Special agreement in 2008 the contemplation was that we will be able to go to referendum simultaneously on the same day, but we run into problem with that because the Guatemalan usually holds elections on Sunday and we normally hold it on a weekday and it was thought that it was difficult for us to do it simultaneously so the amendment simply allow us to either to go simultaneously as originally contemplated or for any of us to go ahead of the other.  Once we ratify the Special Agreement, once we amend the referendum act the way it is prepared now for us to set a date to hold the referendum and because this matter is of such importance to us and to our existence as a sovereign nation the contemplation by all is to proceed to hold the referendum at the quickest time so that it will be a decision of all the Belizean people not only for those who call in at the talk shows and who go on social media, all Belizeans will have an obligation given an opportunity to go on the day of the referendum and cast their vote so that at the end of the day whatever decision is taken it can be said it was  decision of the people of Belize given freely and that is that epitomizes the contract of democracy which we subscribed to.”

But while the idea of going to the ICJ does not sit well with some, GOB has made their position clear, which is that taking the Guatemala territorial dispute to the ICJ is the only way to resolve the issue and today the Foreign Minister reiterated that position.

Honorable Wilfred Elrington – Minister of Foreign Affairs

“All final decision of great importance to a nation are normally done by having the people vote directly, so every five years we have General Elections those at seminar, those are essential to a democracy and it is the people who decide who are going to be in government and who will not, the decision to deal with the Belize/Guatemalan claim to try to have it resolve finally is perhaps the most importance decision our country will make because it deals with the most important issue we are face with, Guatemala is claiming large part of the country, it is a claim that has haunted us over a hundred years, it has retarded our progress and it has put in jeopardy our civilians as well as our military people, it is a cloud that in fact it is regarding our development and we need to try to resolve it once and for all, the government and the opposition we have done our part, well let me say the government we have done our part in that we have taken the view that we will go to the ICJ subject to the decision of the people in referendum, we were required to do that, we were require to signal to the world and to our population that we the people of government approve this procedure but the important thing is that it must be a decision of the people not us the leaders and not ever be anything wrong with having the people decide and issue like this, the people must decide because it is their faith, it is their children, their assets their livelihood and they must make this one and we have been careful to say while the government position, the Cabinet positon, the party positon, is that we should argue for a yes and to urge people to vote to go to the ICJ and we have decided that this is the best way to go and it is one of the very few options that we are left with, an option that is safe and does not involve military activity or confrontation.”

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