Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland has deployed a Commonwealth Observer Group led by former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham to observe the referendum in Belize proposed for April 10.
The proposed referendum question is: “Do you agree that any legal claim of Guatemala against Belize relating to land and insular territories and to any maritime areas pertaining to these territories should be submitted to the International Court of Justice for final settlement and that it determine finally the boundaries of the respective territories and areas of the parties?”
As noted, the observer group is led by Ingraham and is composed of 10 specialists from across the Commonwealth with backgrounds in election management, law, gender, civil society, media and politics.
Both the group and the commonwealth secretariat have taken note of the ruling by Belize’s chief justice on April 3, granting a temporary injunction until the Supreme Court further deliberates on the matter, and also notes the appeal lodged by the government to the Court of Appeal.
The group will meet with a range of stakeholders in this context, including senior politicians, NGOs, trade unions, representatives from the private sector, the referendum commission, the referendum unit and other observers.
Other members of the Commonwealth Observer Group are: Lorna Simon, supervisor of elections in Antigua and Barbuda; Orville Alton Turnquest, former Bahamas cabinet minister; Wyvolyn Patterson, Jamaican journalist; Professor Luis Franceschi of Kenya; Professor Rwekaza Mukandala of Tanzania; Mark Ramkerrysingh, Trinidad and Tobago’s Elections and Boundaries Commission chairman; Irene Ovonji-Odida, independent commissioner from Uganda; Baroness Denise Kingsmill, member of the House of Lords from the UK; and David Radford, retired judge from the UK.
The observer group is supported by a four-person secretariat support team led by Martin Kasirye.