Belize and Guatemala election officials meet in San Ignacio town

By on October 7, 2013

Electoral officials of Belize and Guatemala met on Sunday in San Ignacio town. 

President of the Election and Boundaries Commission Bernard Q. Pitts headed the Belize delegation while the Guatemala delegation was led by the president of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal Maria Eugenia Villagran de Leon. 

A statement from the OAS, under whose auspices the meeting was held, says that the purpose of the meeting was to “exchange information, experiences and best practices in electoral management; identify areas for the inter-institutional collaboration; and further learn about the norms and processes in each country to conduct referendums.” 

The meeting was held on the same day on which Belize and Guatemala were due to hold simultaneous referendums so that the people of the respective countries could determine whether or not the centuries old claim by Guatemala to Belizean territory should be submitted to the International Court of Justice for final resolution.

Guatemala withdrew from the agreement on the joint referendum back in April, claiming that Belize’s requisite of 60% voter participation to make a referendum viable under Belizean law was too much of an imbalance for Guatemala to accept. 

The OAS statement says that Sunday’s meeting “took place within the framework of the new confidence-building measures that both countries adopted last May with a view to improving the conditions necessary to establish a new date to hold the simultaneous referenda, which will determine if the territorial dispute between both countries is submitted to the International Court of Justice for final settlement.” 

Also included in the Belize delegation to the meeting of election officials were CEO in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ambassador Alexis Rosado, members of the Belize Referendum Unit, ambassadors Stuart Leslie and James Murphy and Chief Elections Officer Josephine Tamai.

The OAS statement ends by saying that “the delegations expressed their deep satisfaction for the friendly and cooperative environment that prevailed throughout the exchanges and agreed to promote additional initiatives of a technical nature in the near future to continue strengthening the bilateral cooperation in electoral matters.”

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