No Concern Over Guatemala’s Claim on Belize’s Referendum Law Print E-mail
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Written by Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 24 January 2013 00:00

There was a report in the Prensa Libre newspaper of Guatemala that the President of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal in Guatemala, Maria Euginia Villagran, was speaking of a possible postponement of the referendum date based on concerns about Belize’s Referendum Act. The Guardian spoke to Belize’s Ambassador to Guatemala, H.E. Fred Martinez, who said that there is no real reason to be concerned about the possibility of any postponement to the October 6th simultaneous referenda date.

Martinez said that there are some Guatemalan officials that are concerned about the fact that Belize’s Referendum Act states that there needs to be a 60% turnout of the voting population for the decision to be accepted. He said some have gone as far as to say that Belizean policy-makers drafted the Bill intentionally to give Belize breathing room on the outcome of the referendum. They believe that it is not fair for them to spend significantly more money on an exercise that is binding to them but potentially not binding to Belize.

Martinez said that he believes the Guatemalan officials are genuinely concerned about what they believe to be an unlevel playing field but they must respect the laws of Belize. He said that it is his understanding that there is no real suggestion of postponing the date of the referendum but rather to postpone the commencement of consultations in Guatemala. He said there is no way that Guatemala can postpone their referendum date because it is an accepted international agreement for both countries to carry out the exercise simultaneously on October 6th, 2013.