By: Dr. Gerald Zuniga, Political Science Studies,
Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala,
Universidad Mariano Galvez, Guatemala City.
Sunday April 7, 2019
Belize is travelling through some uncharted waters in its legal and political history. The uncleared politico legal atmosphere yesterday, which still hover, is very dangerous for the state of affairs because the government is pushing its agenda against all odds. This is not a Judgement Day matter but they can create their own political apocalypse. With a temporary injunction granted should be sufficient reason to use other strategies. The most prudent political measure should have been to inform the nation that the referendum is postponed until a better feasible date. That would have been a political gain.
WE ARE NOT GOING TO THE ICJ FOR A SACK OF DIAMONDS NEITHER WILL A RESOLUTION FROM THE ICJ ENDS THIS CLAIM. DON’T SAY YOU WEREN’T WARNED.
Article 19 Transitory in Guatemala’s Constitution will be the source for future challenges at their Constitutional Court. Which I have referred to over and over again. This is not fear mongering. I have no conflict of interest to fear monger anyone. There is a saying in Spanish and I quote “Errar es de humanos y de rectificar es de sabios” To err is human but to rectify is of the wise. This was precisely what the leader of the Opposition, Johnny Briceño, did. He rectified.
This government has had many instances of challenging legal dispositions and have failed and at a cost of hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars. The IQ can’t be that low and arrogance that high!
It is imperative to emphasize that judicial resolutions in democratic countries are to be obeyed. It is the essence of a check and balance system. In despotic and fascist states, the judiciary functions as a total coercer and to the interest of government and the state. The obeying of judicial dispositions is a basic principle that lawyers and political scientist learn at the university. Another saying in law classes in Spanish that says “FALLOS JUDICIALES NO SE DISCUTEN. SE ACATAN.” You may not agree with the resolution but you have respect it, obey it, and comply with it.
This is especially so for politicians in office in virtue that they should show the example and that they take the Oath of Allegiance. It is a sort of wing-clipping to control how high they can fly in the abuse of power or the usurpation of functions. If one don’t agree with the resolution, there are appeals. However, the due process must be followed or else it could be declared as disobedience to the law. If the constitution is breached, for example, the Governor General as Head of State, in representation of Her Majesty the Queen, could have no other option but to revoke the appointment in this case of the Prime Minister and could dissolve the National Assembly and call for General Elections.
So the Prime Minister’s capriciousness and/or temper tantrum could cause him his seat and his investiture or appointment and in that case his shot would have backfired.
According to our Constitution in Art. 37 paragraphs (1 & 2) and I quote ”
(1) There shall be a Prime Minister who shall be appointed by the Governor General.
(2) Whenever the Governor-General has occasion to appoint a Prime Minister he shall appoint a member of the House of Representatives who is the leader of the political party which commands the support of the majority of the members of that House; and if no political party has an overall majority, he shall appoint a member of that House who appears to him likely to command the support of the majority of the members of that House.
I would recommend that both paragraphs of this article be amended as soon as possible, but most likely by the next government. An amendment that will give us as voters our full sovereignty and make our choices be constitutional. Right now, the way our Constitution is, the tortilla can be turned over in the House and it would be constitutional because our practice in this respective, that is the election of our Prime Minister, is customary and not necessarily constitutional.
So if the Governor General appoints the Prime Minister, he can also revoke his appointment or mandate and stripped of investiture. The Prime Minister can argue that he was elected but he was not necessarily elected to become Prime Minister of Belize because according to our Constitution being the Party Leader doesn’t automatically transpose to prime ministership. He was elected as a Representative and became Prime Minister as of appointment while in the House. Let me break this down, we have had this customary practice that political parties elect their party leader and based on tradition that person automatically becomes the Prime Minister of Belize. But Art. 37 (1 & 2) of our Constitution se da no so this thing go. Such practice has been unconstitutional but never challenged. According to our Constitution, it is the Governor General who appoints the Prime minister. But it has never been that way since Independence.
We have had the practice and in our minds that whichever party leader wins he automatically becomes P.M. and I say he because only males have had that post but female leaders are springing up so we will soon say he or she. We should start to obey our Constitution. Ironically, not the Governor General carries out his investiture as stipulated by our Constitution.
Every Belizean should have a copy of our Constitution whether electronic or physical. A Constitution in its wording and use isn’t exclusive for lawyers, politicians, nor political scientists. It is written and for the use of every citizen. If both Belizeans and Guatemalans would have respected their respective Constitutions. There would be no referendum in Belize and the question in Guatemala’s referendum would have been different. Since such referendum practiced in Guatemala, and the one to be practiced in Belize violates the Constitution then our court on our behalf should declare our referendum practice nulo ipse jure. That is, null and void and force. The government should do the things constitutionally right.
In my opinion, all the agreements signed with Guatemala since 2008 violated our Constitution grossly and curiously by lawyers who should know better. I continue to say: OUR CONSTITUTION IS, UNTIL WE MAKE AMENDMENTS.
So the government must be careful with legal procedures, otherwise things could backfire and instead of having a referendum, we could end up having general elections.///