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#429194 - 01/31/12 10:09 PM Elections Declared
Diane Campbell Offline
National Elections will be held on March 7th - same time as Municipal. Just announced.

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#429206 - 02/01/12 02:53 AM Re: Elections Declared [Re: Diane Campbell]
Marty Offline
NATIONAL ELECTION DATE SET

Belizeans will vote in early general elections on March seventh. The
announcement of the election date was made just before noon today.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
“We want both to consolidate and to strike out in new directions. We are
confident that we have done well and have deserved your trust. But as we
prepare to change gears and accelerate speed, there is only one way to know
for sure. And that is to come back to you the people for your approval.
Accordingly, I have today advised His Excellency the Governor General to
dissolve the National Assembly with effect from this Friday, February 3. On
that day, a writ will be issued appointing the 17th of February as
nomination day, and fixing Wednesday, March 7, 2012 as the date for the
next general election. We will thus have both the municipal and general
election on the same day. Now elections in this country are always
hard-fought, costly, and by their very nature divisive. Having the two in
one will thus save the taxpayer money, and mean a single, quick healing
process. Whoever wins can then get on straightaway with the business of
binding up wounds and uniting our country; of governing in the best
interest of all Belizeans; of continuing to meet the challenges of the
unfavorable international climate.”

LOVEFM

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#429223 - 02/01/12 01:36 PM Re: Elections Declared [Re: Diane Campbell]
Marty Offline
VIDEO: Statement by Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize:

My Fellow Belizeans,

I have been proud and grateful to lead the United Democratic Party Government since February of 2008. And we have accomplished much in this first term. Acting always for the people and with the support of the people, our overall record is a stellar one. Economic growth has been consistent and we have recorded gains every year but one. This has been despite the continuing global crisis, despite the vagaries of nature, despite freak storms and hurricanes, and despite the super bond.

We have given income tax relief to all employees on fixed salaries. And we have given GST and import duty relief to every single consumer. We have, for the first time in our nation’s history, chartered comprehensive pro-poor and pro- people programmes. These have included monthly cost-of-living allowances, subsidized food baskets, and cash transfers to thousands of families. We have awarded 300 dollar grants to first and second year high school students across the country; and educational opportunities have been expanded in unprecedented ways. We have built a record number of new classrooms, given a record number of scholarships, and we have excelled at creating second-chance, remedial, vocational, and apprenticeship initiatives. We have found resources to do new housing construction countrywide, and we have poured millions into home repairs and home improvement. In addition, we have written off almost fifteen thousand mortgages at the Ministry of Housing and the Social Security Board, allowing all those families burdened by repayment obligations to now own their homes free and clear. We have pushed infrastructure development in a way that has never been seen in Belize; and our roads and bridges network, especially in the South and North, has immeasurably improved as a consequence. The key to unlocking the foreign funding for all this, has of course been the fact that we have returned our homeland to credibility and honest stewardship.

Our social justice and employment outreach, has also succeeded in attacking the root causes of crime in Belize; and has produced the gang truce and the signal reduction in the murder rate that we are so thankfully witnessing now.

We have also enshrined nationalism as a paramount feature of our Constitution and our political culture. We have given the people control of their essential utilities. And as a result, everyone is now enjoying lower electricity rates, lower water rates and lower telephone rates. This, together with the restoration of integrity and accountability in governance, is perhaps the greatest jewel in the crown of UDP achievements.

It is on this basis of all this that I come before you at this time. You, the people of this country, are our comfort and our strength. You enable and empower us. You are also our monitors and our judges. Politically we answer only to you. Still, the forces opposed to our nationalism and our social justice continue to fight. At home and abroad they assault our pro-poor and pro-people policies, and some of them claim to have you on their side. We reject that and know they are wrong. But as proof we want a clear reaffirmation now of the mandate for us to continue and expand our mission. We want you to arm us and support us so we can tell the world that there will be no turning back. That there will be no compromise of our political and Constitutional gains. That we will forge unwaveringly ahead in our crusade to produce development based on justice; based on greater social investment; based on a larger financial and economic space; based on equality of opportunity; based on a bigger safety net; and based always on lifting up those at the margins.

We therefore ask for your clear instructions to drive the naysayers back; to do something about the super bond; to overhaul the tax code and further spur economic growth; to reform the public sector and make open vote workers part of the established staff; to roll out NHI countrywide in a sustainable manner; to eliminate financial uncompetitiveness; to lower interest rates and to establish a national bank; to rationalize the sugar and citrus industries for immediate viability and longer-term prosperity; and to realign existing ministries and create new ones in order to maximize efficiency.

Ladies and Gentlemen, you get the picture. We want both to consolidate and to strike out in new directions. We are confident that we have done well and have deserved your trust. But as we prepare to change gears and accelerate speed, there is only one way to know for sure. And that is to come back to you the people for your approval.

Accordingly, I have today advised His Excellency the Governor General to dissolve the National Assembly with effect from this Friday, February 3. On that day, a writ will be issued appointing the 17th of February as nomination day, and fixing Wednesday, March 7, 2012 as the date for the next general election. We will thus have both the municipal and general election on the same day. Now elections in this country are always hard-fought, costly, and by their very nature divisive. Having the two in one will thus save the taxpayer money, and mean a single, quick healing process. Whoever wins can then get on straightaway with the business of binding up wounds and uniting our country; of governing in the best interest of all Belizeans; of continuing to meet the challenges of the unfavorable international climate.

Ladies and Gentlemen, My Fellow Belizeans: I remind all of us that we have an enviable record for peaceful elections. I appeal to all political parties and candidates to ensure that we maintain that record. The Public Officers that will oversee the process are professionals, and will guarantee that, as always, the elections will be free and fair. Of course, we will also be inviting international observers to come and help make sure of the integrity of our balloting.

As we prepare, then, to exercise once more this most sacred of all our political rights, the right to vote, I close by praying now, more than ever: God bless Belize!


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#429226 - 02/01/12 02:11 PM Re: Elections Declared [Re: Diane Campbell]
Marty Offline

Prime Minister Calls Early Elections; Doubles Up With Municipals

We hinted at it in the news one week ago, and today it was confirmed: General elections will be held in exactly 35 days, on March 7 - the same day as municipal elections.

It will be Belize's first double election since 2003 and the first early general election since 1993. The action started this morning when the Prime Minister visited the Governor General's Office in Belmopan at 8:45 am - to advise him to dissolve the National Assembly on Friday, February 3. On that day, a writ will be issued setting the 17th February as nomination day, and fixing Wednesday, March 7, 2012 as the date for the next general election.

So, the race begins - leading to five furious weeks of activity for the political parties and aspirants. It started today with the PM's last official Press Conference - where he expressed gratitude for his term and urged all sides to keep the peace:..

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"It has been my privilege to lead this United Democratic Party government since 2008 and in making the general election announcement today. I want to say that the emotion that I experience in the greatest measure is one of gratitude."

"Less anyone think that I am saying this because I do not expect to be back here after March 7, I hasten to disabuse of that notion, I fully expect to be back after March 7."

"But ladies and gentlemen that is for the people of this country to decide and you must know that whatever the decision is, I will respect it and embrace it. It will be, however it goes, another triumph for our great Belizean democracy."

"We have this enviable record of always holding elections that are free, fair and peaceful. I am completely confident that that is a record we will maintain, but I nevertheless take this opportunity to appeal now to my own party, my own candidates and the other parties and all the other candidates that will be contesting the general elections to do absolutely everything that is necessary to ensure that the elections will be peaceful."

The Prime Minister also explained the rationale behind going back to the electorate one full year before his government's five year term is up.

As anyone who follows current events will know - the focus and direction of this administration has been taken up with combating crime on one hand and overcoming uber-capitalist Michael Ashcroft on the other - and in so doing, perhaps almost by accident, the Barrow Administration came to embrace a pro-poor platform.

But, in order to fully pursue that, he told the press conference today that his party needs a new mandate:

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"The implementation of our social justice convictions and philosophy will result in a continuation and expansion of the sorts of pro-poor policies that we have already chartered. That requires in view of the opposition to it in some quarters that requires asking the people for a clear and unmistakable mandate so that the government can continue with its work in that direction."

"There is serious work to be done. Work that requires a kind of firmness of purpose and unity of effort that cannot be had to any reasonable degree in the face of elections. Let's get the elections over with so that, as I said, whoever wins can get on with the business of governing this country and improving the lives of our Belizean citizens."

"I felt that from the party's point of view a once-and-for-all one-time mobilization of the entire party is something that would redound to our benefit. Let everybody come on that one day - municipal candidates, general election candidates and let's put the party machinery to work for all of us at both municipal and national level."

And looming large in the work ahead are the multiple legal challenges being brought by the Ashcroft Alliance - which government says it also needs the validation of the voters to keep fighting:..

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"There are already new challenges to what we have done in terms of the ownership of the essential utilities. It would be a salutary thing. To put it at its lowest, certainly not be without uses, without merit for the courts of this country to see that the people of Belize have blessed and endorsed what the United Democratic Party government has done with respect to those essential utilities."

"We want the world to see that the people of this country support with respect to the vast majority. The ownership of those essential utilities, the determination that they can here after never be again alienated."

Later on, we'll have a little more from the press conference as the PM discusses the possibility of a second term and whether he'll stick around as Prime Minister.

Channel 7


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#429231 - 02/01/12 02:15 PM Re: Elections Declared [Re: Diane Campbell]
Marty Offline
No Referendum On March Seventh?

And while we've talked plenty about the double election on March seventh - you may be asking what about the referendum on offshore drilling? The Coalition to save Our Natural Heritage triggered the referendum mechanism to force the referendum to be called on that day, but it will not be - and the PM gave a highly technical explanation as to why at today's press conference:

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"In examination of the law; tells me that it can't. As far as I know these signatures were obtained a long time ago. It appears that the decision not to present them to the chief elections officer for verification was taken so that the timing might allow for this referendum to occur on the same day as the municipal elections."

"From what I have seen they've got it wrong. The referendum petition; the list of signatures was presented as I recalled on the 9th December. Two months from that for the completion of the exercise would be the 9th of February. But I suspect that because the law says after the verification with the Governor General has 30 days within which to issue the referendum writ. They thought somehow that would make it possible for the referendum writ to be issued for the 7th March."

"What the law says is that the Governor General issues the referendum writ within 30 days and in that writ fixes the actual date of the referendum which can't be before 30 days after the issue of the writ."




Voters Not So Sure About Double Election

But is the public ready to face two ballots at the polls on March seventh? Today our intern Robin Schaffer took to the streets this afternoon to ask a few pedestrians if they knew and if they were ready.

She found a mixed bag of public opinion:..

Robin Schaffer
"Do you heard that both elections; the general and municipal will be on the 7th March?"

Interviewee 1
"Yes I heard it."

Robin Schaffer
"What's your reaction to that? Do you think it's a good idea?"

Interviewee 1
"Anyone will do."

Robin Schaffer
"Is it encouraging you to vote? Do you think you will go out and vote on that day?"

Interviewee 1
"I don't know because all those years I voted I haven't received any help. I am a poor person."

Robin Schaffer
"Have you heard that there will be both elections; general and municipal on the same day?"

Interviewee 2
"I heard that today."

Robin Schaffer
"What are your reactions to it? Do you think it will be too hectic? Do you think it's a good idea?"

Interviewee 2
"I think it's going to be a bit too hectic."

Robin Schaffer
"Sir, will that deter you from voting that day?"

Interviewee 2
"No, for me it's alright. But for some people it will be trouble. More mistakes will be made; more than heaven and hell."

Robin Schaffer
"Are you aware that both general and municipal elections are called the same day?"

Interviewee 3
"Yes."

Robin Schaffer
"What are your reactions to it? Do you think it's a good idea? Do you think it will be hectic?"

Interviewee 3
"I am not so sure if it's a good idea but I know yes it will be hectic. What else to say? The government do what they want to do and I guess sometimes us at the citizens just have to go with what the government wants right."

Robin Schaffer
"Do you want to vote after hearing that?"

Interviewee 3
"I am still going to vote. That is the law."

Interviewee 4
"The Prime Minister says on TV that he doing it to save tax payers money. I don't know what he means by that."

Robin Schaffer
"What are your reactions to it? You feel that it is a good idea or?"

Interviewee 4
"You want to know what my problem is. It's the immigrants that he brought in the other day that Elvin Penner brought down. That is my problem that I have right now. Immigrants are taking over this country and a lot of people are not seeing that. The elections are not my problem, the immigrants is my problem. As a Belizean I don't like someone comes on my soil to claim nationality."

Robin Schaffer
"Will you vote on the day of general election?"

Interviewee 4
"Yes I will support the United Democratic Party even though I am not eating bread with them, I still will support them because there are certain things that they have done which is good and certain things they have done which is bad like the immigrants that they gave nationality to. I am against that."

Robin Schaffer
"So it doesn't make any difference to you whether they have both elections on the same day or not?"

Interviewee 4
"Anyway you take it the UDP will win to me. If they have it before or after, the UDP will win."




PM Says He Will Stay On If Elected To Second Term

And for those going to the polls - one legitimate concern is who they are voting for as Prime Minister. Indeed, in this country, we do not have direct election of the Prime Minister - but the Party Leader for the winning side - if he is elected ascends automatically to that post.

There has been some speculation that UDP Party Leader Dean Barrow - might think about stepping down as PM - sometime during a second term, if his party is elected.

It's not far-fetched considering the PM's chronic and acute back problems and now his wife's breast cancer.

So today we asked him if he plans to stay on as PM if his party were to win another term:..

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"Surely we can't think that far ahead. I will be happy if the good people of this country give a second term. I would consider it my obligation in fact to keep my end of the bargain with them. If they give you a second term it's because they mean for you to serve out the second term and do all that you can for them."

Channel 7


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#429258 - 02/01/12 06:01 PM Re: Elections Declared [Re: Diane Campbell]
Katie Valk Offline
Didn't our PM say elections would be called right after they announce BTL will take the lock off of VOIP? Hold him to it; can't break the first election promise before elections, can he?
_________________________
Belize based travel specialist
www.belize-trips.com
info@belize-trips.com

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#429277 - 02/01/12 11:00 PM Re: Elections Declared [Re: Diane Campbell]
Marty Offline
Coalition calls on Governor General and Government to act on the people’s will and hold the Offshore Referendum on March 7

The Belize Coalition to Save our Natural Heritage (BCSNH) responds to the Prime Minister’s comments from yesterday’s press conference on the calling of General Elections. At that press conference, the Prime Minister stated that the Offshore Oil Exploration and Drilling Referendum would not be held on March 7, 2012 to coincide with the General and Municipal Elections.

In requesting March 7, 2012 as the Referendum Day, the Coalition was acting in good faith and being reasonable, in order to save the people’s money by requesting to have the Referendum held on the same day with Municipal Elections. The Coalition also fully considered that the need for mobilization of public servants would not be difficult, as that mobilization would already have taken place in the cities and towns for the municipal elections, and therefore only the villages and smaller communities would require additional resources. Now with the combining of both the General and Municipal Elections, the issue of additional resource allocation for villages and smaller communities for a Referendum is a moot point, and only further reduces any financial or human resources costs.

The Belize Coalition to Save our Natural Heritage is calling on Government to support the People’s Referendum by enabling the completion of the vetting of the petition signatures by February 6. We also plan, through Oceana - the organization which triggered the Referendum – to write the Governor General of Belize asking him to act in the same good faith and reasonableness, and issue the Writ of Referendum on February 7, naming March 7, 2012 as the date of the offshore referendum.

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#429410 - 02/03/12 02:26 PM Re: Elections Declared [Re: Diane Campbell]
Marty Offline
Lavish spending to seduce the electorate

In other news, leading up to the Christmas, the government undertook what it calls the Constituency Assistance program. U.D.P. area representatives and standard bearers were able to access forty thousand dollar each for the ham and turkey bonanza. Well, with the general elections and municipal elections just five weeks away there is more lavish spending to seduce the electorate. Copy of an e-mail received at this station shows that government is now spending much more in what it calls Phase two of the program.

Aside from the U.D.P. area representatives, standard bearers: Lee Mark Chang, Santino Castillo, Orlando Burns, Denny Grijalva, Hugo Pott, Herman Longsworth, George Gough, Mark King and Raul Rosado, will be getting fifty thousand each, a total of one point five million. The money will be disbursed through the ministries of education, housing, works, and NEMO. The memo with the instructions was sent to the C.E.O.’s of the different ministries on February first. We note that in the case of the prime minister, the disbursement is in cash. This afternoon, we called the financial secretary, Joseph Waight for confirmation, he was in a meeting. A copy of the instructions can be seen at channel5belize.com.

Channel 5

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#429524 - 02/04/12 03:34 PM Re: Elections Declared [Re: Diane Campbell]
Marty Offline

Barrow rolls the dice March 7!


A week removed from the fourth anniversary of his administration being elected on February 7, 2008, Prime Minister of Belize Dean Barrow announced just before noon on Tuesday, January 31, that he would seek a renewed mandate from the Belizean electorate, calling a general election for 31 members of the House of Representatives on March 7, 2012.

Also on that date, elections for 2 city and 7 town councils will be conducted. These are statutorily held on the first Wednesday after the last day of February every three years.

On Tuesday morning, reportedly following meetings with Cabinet and the parliamentary caucus, the Prime Minister visited Governor General Sir Colville Young, and advised him to dissolve the National Assembly with effect from tomorrow, Friday, February 3, and set nomination day for the general elections two weeks later on February 17, two days after the date set for municipal election nominations, on February 15.

The decision

In a recorded statement aired on national radio and television, the Prime Minister described the overall record of his administration as “a stellar one,” stating that “we have accomplished much in this first term…”, “…despite the continuing global crisis, despite the vagaries of nature, despite freak storms and hurricanes, and despite the super-bond.”

As proof, the P.M. cited various tax reliefs, the vaunted “pro-poor initiatives” such as the food basket subsidy program, the conditional cash transfer program, scholarships and monetary grants for high school students, expansion of remedial and vocational education; new housing construction and home repairs and improvement; infrastructural improvement; the gang truce and subsequent reduction in murder rate; and “enshrined nationalism,” both in the Constitution and in Belize’s political culture by returning majority control of public utilities to the State, allowing for lower rates and improved service.

But most significantly, states the Prime Minister, his administration has been able to “return our homeland to credibility and honest stewardship,” and cites this and the regaining of public utilities as “perhaps the greatest jewel in the crown of UDP achievements.”

In making the case for an early election, which he had said up to last week would be more likely to have been called later this year and after the municipal elections, Prime Minister Barrow stated, “…the forces opposed to our nationalism and our social justice continue to fight. At home and abroad they assault our pro-poor and pro-people policies, and some of them claim to have you on their side. We reject that and know they are wrong. But as proof we want a clear reaffirmation now of the mandate for us to continue and expand our mission. We want you to arm us and support us so we can tell the world that there will be no turning back…”

Describing the electorate as “our comfort and our strength” and “our monitors and our judges” and acknowledging that “politically we answer only to you,” the P.M. said he was now asking for “clear instructions” from the citizenry, to “consolidate and to strike out in new directions.” While expressing confidence in the performance of his administration to date, he acknowledged that coming back to Belizeans is the only way to know for sure if the majority of voters approve of that performance.

Having a double election, Barrow remarked, would “save the taxpayer money and mean a single, quick healing process,” especially after the usual “hard-fought, costly…divisive” nature of the upcoming campaign. He concluded by appealing for all political parties and candidates to maintain Belize’s record of peaceful elections, expressing confidence in the work of the public officers who will be put in charge, and promising to invite international observers to “come and help make sure of the integrity of our balloting.”

UDP: We’ll be back

The Prime Minister called his last press conference in that capacity for 2:30 on Tuesday afternoon at the Best Western Belize Biltmore Plaza’s River Hall.

In his opening statement there, Barrow expressed his “gratitude” to the party and nation for being given an opportunity to serve as Prime Minister, and while confidently declaring that he “fully expect[ed] to be back here” after March 7, also stated that whatever decision Belizeans make, he would accept and embrace it as another measure of Belize’s democracy.

But it appears that the Belize Coalition to Save our Natural Heritage (BCSNH) and member Oceana will not get their requested referendum on offshore drilling for petroleum and drilling in protected areas on March 7, after the P.M. appeared to dismiss the call by the Coalition and Oceana to push through the referendum, stating that only the Governor General sets the date for a referendum — within the issued writ of referendum, at least 30 days after that issuance, assuming that the verification of signatures establishes at least 10% of the electorate had signed, and no one, not even the National Assembly, can do otherwise. (We will have more on this in a separate story elsewhere in this issue.)

The P.M. also closed the door on a re-registration exercise, which we had reported last week would not be decided on until July, 2012, the end of a five-year extension by the second administration of former Prime Minister Said Musa, but he told us that the traditional process of the court handling objections to new voters would weed out any questionable applicants in the wake of the granting of citizenship to 1,098 new Belizeans in January.

P.M. Barrow, speaking before an audience of his standard bearers, municipal aspirants and campaign workers, vigorously defended his pro-poor initiatives when we questioned him about whether those programs would be extended through the campaign season, and whether that would undermine the promise of a clean, influence-free campaign. He pointed out that there is provision in the 2011-12 budget for all of the programs initiated by his administration, which will be continued if they are re-elected, and that in the case of the Christmas Assistance Program, (in which $1.2 million was siphoned from the dividends acquired by the Government from the $15 million profits last year of Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL) and routed through various Ministries for assistance to needy constituents across the country), a report was made to the House as per procedure. A portion of those BTL dividends, he noted, would also make up for the shortfall in housing spending and home repairs and improvement.

Contrary to previous administrations and particularly the second Musa administration, Barrow told Amandala, they have managed to avoid the dent in budget caused by borrowing for the election campaign. His national tour, scheduled to continue this Sunday in Orange Walk, for instance, does not use any government resources.

Barrow also said he had “no apologies” to make on the naturalization process so criticized by many, because there was nothing illegal or improper done by any of his officials, who only facilitated those who had “bottlenecked” applications for citizenship in Belmopan, adding that he believes in the immigration process as a boost to national development.

Barrow also touched on oil issues and the recent poor behavior of two aspirants, Cayo South area representative Hon. Ramon Witz and San Pedro Town Council candidate Dr. Severo Guerrero, Jr. Dr. Guerrero, who was caught without authority in the San Pedro Election and Boundaries Office after hours several weeks ago, has been formally reprimanded by his party for his role in the affair, which the Prime Minister called “totally unacceptable,” even though he said he believed Guerrero’s claim that he was invited by the officer in charge, Marilee Squires, who has been suspended pending further investigation, into the office to fix a computer problem.

Hon. Witz was caught on video recently appearing to chop down a post with a PUP flag in a yard in the village of Valley of Peace, Cayo, with a crowd witnessing, and then apparently exchanging words with the videographer as he walked off. The P.M. placed that report in the context of alleged repeated vandalism practiced by supporters of Witz’s opponent, Julius Espat, and noted that the homeowner is one of the UDP’s supporters and gave no permission for any PUP flag to be put in her yard, and moreover, gave Witz a machete personally to take the post and flag down. A general caution has been issued to all UDP candidates to watch their behavior in light of these incidents.

The P.M. indicated that he would consider, in the right “circumstances,” a debate with his opponent in the PUP, Francis Fonseca.

PUP: All is not well

Contrasting with the tone of confidence of the incumbents is the gravity of the Opposition, whose Leader, Francis Fonseca, answered the election call later on Tuesday.

Opening his nationally televised address with a dig at the UDP’s 2008 campaign slogan, “Imagine the possibilities,” Fonseca announced: “In the Prime Minister’s world of imaginary possibilities, all is well in Belize, life has never been better. The UDP record, he says, is a ‘stellar’ one. Well, those of us living and working in the ‘real’ Belize know that Belize is facing a serious economic crisis. Our people are struggling in the worst kind of way. Cost of living keeps getting higher and higher. The food, light and water bills, school fees, rent and medical expenses are a heavy burden on our people. Wages are frozen. Unemployment is rampant, rising from 8.5% in 2007 to 24% after four years of UDP mismanagement of the economy.”

Fonseca cited the “policies and arrogance” of the Barrow administration as the main reason for a “destroyed” investment climate, lack of economic growth, lost jobs and businesses and attendant social ills.

His prescription is a return of the blue and white to Independence Hill: “…we need a new PUP Government with clear plans and solutions to our social and economic problems. The PUP will deliver us from the stifling air of uncertainty and anxiety that prevails today and will set free the creative and enterprising spirit of the Belizean people…”

Fonseca emphasized job creation, progressive reform, tackling crime and violence and new vision in education and health.

The UDP want this election to be about the past. You passed judgment on the PUP in February of 2008. This 2012 election is about the future…. Together we can move Belize forward but it will require a Government that is serious, competent and focused on solutions notpolitics…” said Fonseca, in explanation of the PUP’s view of how the election should be fought.

“The PUP is committed to a positive, peaceful campaign. The political parties will have their say but the Belizean people will have their way…” Fonseca concluded his address.

In speaking with Amandala on Wednesday, Hon. Fonseca, who is seeking a third term in the Freetown division against the UDP’s Lee Mark Chang, drew comparison between the first double election, called by Rt. Hon. Said Musa for March 5, 2003, and this election.

The economy was a lot stronger in 2003, unemployment was not serious and while the party faced some challenges on its performance, we were much stronger and still fairly popular. In 2012 the economy is weak; unemployment and poverty have increased. Voters voted to continue the progress in 2003. I think they will vote to change the state of affairs now, because the UDP have no solutions.”

Fonseca told us he believes that with the municipal elections on the same day, some of the dynamics change, but the PUP, he stated, has “good, strong, effective teams across the country who will help our general election candidates in their constituencies.” He added that despite the tendency for some Belizeans to vote for municipal and central governments formed by the same party, there is evidence of dissatisfaction in the municipalities.

The PUP has been in preparation for an early election, and a March 7 election, since December, and with the replacement of Anthony Mahler in Caribbean Shores by Dr. David Hoy now complete, no further shockwaves should hit Independence Hall.

(Our discussion with Hon. Fonseca touched other major issues, and we will report on this in our next issue).

BUA: Time for change

The newly formed Belize Unity Alliance (BUA), a combination of the Belmopan-based Vision Inspired by the People (VIP), Toledo-based People’s National Party (PNP) and various independent candidates, presented itself this morning, Thursday, as an alternative choice to their longer-established political brethren. (The Alliance is only fighting general elections; the individual parties will contest in Belize City and Belmopan (VIP) and Punta Gorda (PNP), and the independents will contest in San Pedro, Belize City, Belmopan and Punta Gorda.)

At the Chateau Caribbean Hotel, nine candidates – newly elected political leader Robert “Bobby” Lopez in Belize Rural South; his deputy Wil Maheia in Toledo East; Roberto Campos in Corozal Southwest; Marcel Bedran in Cayo North; former PUP Minister Frederick Hunter in Belize Rural Central; Rufus X in Belize Rural North; Charles Leslie, Jr., chair of Placencia in the Stann Creek West constituency; and Richard Smith, who was not present, in Belmopan – stepped forward and declared themselves ready to lead after five decades of the blue and red in charge.

Lopez told the assembled press that the BUA is dedicated to “zero tolerance for corruption,” and endorsed the Prime Minister’s announcement of international observers for the elections.

But there will be self-policing as well. Lopez warned that after Friday, the UDP’s elected ministers and area reps are “ordinary persons” and should not exercise any powers they held prior to dissolution, and are not entitled to the perks of power – government vehicles, etc.

The BUA leader also called on his opponents to adhere to the Prevention of Corruption in Public Life Act and publish in local newspapers (in lieu of the defunct Integrity Commission) their annual disclosure of assets, liabilities, etc. by the election date and for the parties to disclose their campaign financing sources and budget. The BUA will hold itself to the latter promise and Lopez said they will pursue court action for those who do not disclose and encourage Belizeans not to vote for any offenders.

Maheia added a call for the Election and Boundaries Department to review the placement of polling stations, particularly in his native Toledo.

While the BUA is still in its infancy, only three of its candidates – Smith, Lopez and Maheia – represent even a portion of a municipal area. While Lopez told Amandala that there was nothing deliberate about the list of candidates, the BUA has noticed a trend of fear, particularly in the municipalities and Belize City especially (which has no representation in the Alliance) to come out to run. The BUA also issued a call to women for their participation; their counterparts, the UDP, have no women candidates in the general elections, while the PUP has 3.

Each candidate spoke, declaring that the people of Belize now have a choice apart from the red and the blue, and Lopez pledged that the work of unity will continue in the BUA even after the results of March 7’s polls are announced. There had been some obstacles in the past toward unity of the third party movement.

Candidate Bedran told Amandala, “Today, when we met in caucus here, it was the beginning of the end for the two-party system. There is that Chinese proverb about the journey beginning with the first step. This is the first step; we have to start somewhere.”

Answering questions about Belizeans concerned about appointing someone who can help them directly, by becoming a Minister, Rufus X adamantly maintained that area representatives can use what they are allocated to lobby for their constituencies, and are “servants” of the people. Recycling his famous ending line from the parting shot segment of the Kremandala Show, Rufus called on Belizeans to ask, “If my vote can do so much for you, Mr. Politician…what will my vote do for me, this time?

With only nine candidates (sixteen is needed for an administration), the BUA may have to make alliances with the major parties, but it is committed, said Lopez, to work with any and everyone, and advocates unity at all levels.

To date, a total of 71 candidates, 68 men and 3 women, have declared their candidacies for each of the parties contesting the general elections. Both the incumbent UDP and challenger PUP have a full slate of 31 candidates, while the Belize Unity Alliance has 9.

In the municipal races, the PUP and UDP are fielding full slates in all 7 towns and both cities, Belize City and Belmopan, for a total of sixty-seven candidates each. The VIP have a partial slate of seven candidates, including mayoral candidate Paco Smith in Belize City, and a full slate of seven headed by Paul Morgan in their home base of Belmopan, while the PNP are challenging the main parties in Punta Gorda with a full slate.

For independent candidates, there is Mayoral candidate Melanie Paz in San Pedro and 2 councilor candidates; in Belize City, Mayoral aspirants Stephen Okeke and Ernesto Torres and Councilor aspirant Philip “Fawda” Henry; Mayoral aspirants in Belmopan Rudy Wade and Marlon Skeen; and in Punta Gorda, incumbent UDP councilor Orlando Muschamp, who has become estranged from his party, has publicly stated his intention to run independently.

(We will have more from the BUA press conference in our next issue).

Amandala


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#429779 - 02/07/12 01:48 PM Re: Elections Declared [Re: Diane Campbell]
Marty Offline

Continuity of Government

Press Release – The Office of the Prime Minister – February 6th, 2012

Belmopan, Monday, 6th February, 2012. The Office of the Prime Minister wishes to advise the general public that according to Section 84(6) of the Constitution of Belize, “During the period between the dissolution of the National Assembly and the appointment of a Prime Minister after a general election, the government of Belize shall continue to be administered by the Prime Minister and the other Ministers and Ministers of State of the Government.” This means that even though the National Assembly has been dissolved, the Prime Minister and other Ministers of Government continue to exercise their respective powers until a new Government is constituted after the general election.

Office of the Prime Minister
Belmopan, Cayo District


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