Validation Period for Chief Elections Officer to certify 22,000+ Petitions ends Today
The People’s Petition calls for meaningful consultation on a substantial issue
Press Release Date: August 28, 2023
Location: City of Belmopan, Belize
The two-month period for the Chief Elections Officer to validate the People’s Petition ends today, August 28th, 2023.
According to Section 2 (1) of the Referendum Act:
“a referendum shall be held in any of the following circumstances:
(b) where a petition is presented to the Governor General signed by at least 10% of the registered voters in Belize…praying that their opinion on a certain issue or matter is of sufficient public importance that it should be submitted to the electors for their view through a referendum;”
On June 22nd, 2023, Oceana, on behalf of Belizeans, submitted exactly 22,090 signed petitions—more than 3000 of the required 10% threshold—to Governor General of Belize, Her Excellency Dame Froyla Tzalam.
At Section 2(4) of the Referendum Act:
On receipt of the petition from the Governor-General, the Chief Elections Officer shall proceed with due expedition to verify the signatures on the petition and return the petition to the Governor-General as soon as practicable but not later than two months from the date of receipt of the petition, with certificate as to whether or not the petition had been duly signed by the requisite number of electors as specified in sub-section (3).
The nation now looks forward to the Chief Elections Officer’s certificate indicating whether the threshold has been met. This monumental effort to trigger a national referendum, in response to the long-standing demand for meaningful consultation on substantial issues, is globally significant. The outcome of this pivotal decision highlights the potency of people-powered movements and champions those democratic leaders who stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the citizens on the frontline of the climate crisis, who deserve to participate in the decision-making processes on natural resource management.
These petitions serve as a poignant reminder that Belizeans have called for a voice in decisions related to the offshore oil industry since 2010. As a testament to the strength of their people power, a moratorium on all offshore oil activities within Belizean waters was legislated in 2017. Referenda on policies with far reaching implications ensures inclusive, transparent, and well-informed decision-making.
Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one-third of the world’s wild fish catch. With more than 225 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution, and the killing of threatened species like turtles and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that 1 billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal, every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. Visit www.oceana.org to learn more.