Belizeans Finally Voting on Taking Border Dispute with Guatemala to International Court of Justice

BELMOPAN, Belize, Wednesday May 8, 2019 – Belizeans are voting today on whether the country should go to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to resolve their long-standing territorial dispute with Guatemala.

Polls opened at 7 o’clock this morning and will close at 6 p.m. During that 11-hour period, 148,500 voters are eligible to vote at 344 polling stations across the country.

According to Chief Elections Officer Josephine Tamai, results from the vote count should be available by around midnight or early tomorrow morning.

Belizeans are answering ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the question: “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?”

They were originally to vote on April 10th but the opposition People’s United Party (PUP) obtained a court injunction blocking the referendum while it challenged the constitutionality of the Special Agreement signed in 2008 that ended negotiations and opened the way for the territorial dispute between Belize and Guatemala to be taken to the ICJ.

However, the Dean Barrow-led administration subsequently went to Parliament and passed the Belize (Territorial Dispute) Referendum Bill which paved the way for the vote to be held today.

The referendum is being observed by several missions, including from CARICOM and Commonwealth.

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