Belize votes “yes” in national referendum to take border dispute to ICJ


The people of Belize have voted in favour of taking the long-standing border dispute with Guatemala to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

According to media reports, unofficial results from polling stations across the country late Wednesday, indicated that the “yes’ votes were leading by over 4,000.

Following the preliminary reports, the United States has congratulated Belize on the outcome of the referendum..

Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs in the US State Department, Kimberly Breier, in a message on twitter early Thursday said “the vote demonstrates democratic action that benefits the people of both countries.”Ahead of Wednesday’s referendum,  Prime Minister Barrow said that the ICJ referendum was national issue which should never divide Belizeans along party lines.

“At a time like this, we must keep our eyes on the prize, a Belize free from Guatemala’s claim.  Regardless of our political differences, the fact remains that on eight May, we are being called upon to vote yes or no and our nation calls on us to vote not by party but for country.”

Barrow recalled that four Belizeans prime ministers, including the “Father of the Nation, George Price, have supported going to the ICJ to end Guatemala’s claim.

According to the Prime Minister, that the country has already been given the assurance by a former ICJ president, Judge Schwoebel that once the matter is before the court the prospects are high for Belize to successfully obtain binding provisional measures to direct Guatemala to cease and desist from its actions on the Sarstoon, to respect the terms of the 1859 Treat.

However, leader of the main opposition People’s United Party (PUP), John  Briceno has been opposed to the referendum.

The referendum was observed by teams from the Commonwealth and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) as well as other organisations.

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