Constitution of 1981
In the general election of November 1979, the PUP ran on a platform endorsing independence. PUP's opponent, the UDP, favored delaying independence until the territorial dispute with Guatemala was resolved. Although the PUP won only 52 percent of the vote, it carried thirteen of the eighteen seats in the House of Representatives and thus received a mandate for the preparation of an independence constitution. On January 31, 1981, the government issued the White Paper on the Proposed Terms for the Independence of Belize. The National Assembly appointed a joint select committee to consider the proposed terms and solicit input from all organizations in the country. The committee reported widespread support for a monarchical form of government based on the British parliamentary system but also suggested a number of amendments to the proposal. The House of Representatives adopted the committee's report on March 27, 1981.
The Belize Constitutional Conference was then held at Marlborough House, London, between April 6 and April 14, 1981. Although invited to participate, the leader of the opposition in the House of Representatives and other representatives of the UDP declined to attend. Participating in the meeting at Marlborough House were only the Belizean delegation, headed by C.L.B. Rogers, deputy premier of Belize, and the British delegation headed by Nicholas Ridley, secretary of state for foreign and Commonwealth affairs, along with their respective experts. The report issued by the Belize Constitutional Conference set out the structure and content for the independence constitution.
The British Parliament legislated for the final steps leading to Belizean independence in the Belize Act 1981, which received royal assent on July 28, 1981. The act granted Queen Elizabeth II the power to provide Belize an independence constitution and to set a date for Belizean independence by an Order in Council. The act also recognized Belize's self-governing status with provisions for its right to amend the so-called Constitution Order. The queen issued the order on July 31. In Belize the National Assembly passed the new constitution, the governor gave his assent on September 20, 1981, and Belize became independent the following day.
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