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#509114 - 11/14/15 04:55 AM Summoning of the 12th National Assembly of Belize  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 52,967
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline

Both Formal And Fun

House meeting Friday - you know when you hear that in the headlines, you can expect all kinds of grown man antics in the news: from low down insults, to high minded malice - because, let's be real, the House of Representatives is not so much about robust debate as it is about getting in deep digs against the other side. But, for one day every 5 years or so, all that parliamentary hostility is put aside to turn a new leaf, swear in a new set of members, or at least old members with a new mandate, and get underway on a clean sheet. That's what happened in Belmopan today for the summoning of the 12th National assembly of Belize and 7News was there to give you a front row seat:...

Jules Vasquez reporting
Prime Minister Dean Barrow coolly strolled up to the stairs of Independence hall - he'd been here twice before - and the third time seemed to be his most relaxed. After taking his seat as the head of parliament the opposition arrived a little late to the swearing in party. But in time to see the Prime Minister and the Deputy fetch the speaker.

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"When we all went to escort the speaker to his chair, he suggested that we carry him."

After the taking of oaths by both sides they welcomed the Governor General to give the throne speech - to outline the government's plan for the next five years:

Sr. Colville Young, Governor General
"While it marks the 5th administration of the United Democratic Party, it is also the first time in post-independent Belize that a political party has been elected to 3 consecutive terms in office."

"The foundation is laid. The table is set and the best is yet to come."

And government says a foundation will also be laid on Sarstoon Island:

Sr. Colville Young, Governor General
"Because preservation of our territorial integrity remains our foremost preoccupation, my government will also build the forward operating base on the north bank of the Sarstoon River."

After the Governor General's departure, the Prime Minister used his address to say thanks to the electorate.

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"I am sure that I talk for each member of the house, each senator for the clerk and Mr. Speaker and the honorable president when I say to all Belizeans simply and sincerely thank you. The party banners are being lowered and the poster colors of red and blue and green will soon fade and as we put away the paraphernalia of one "P" it is time to embrace that other "P" - the "P" we should value most. The "P" that stands for the people. All of us red and blue are elected to look after the interest of our constituents, not our own and as we focused on the future, these are the questions we must ask ourselves. Into what conditions are our children being born? How are they to be nurtured in their early years? Will they have access to the best schools and the best teachers? What jobs and pay will their parents received? Are their communities getting safer and more productive? Will their grandparents retire with dignity and respect? And will these children inherit a nation of patriots ready to sacrifice all in the defence of national sovereignty?"

As you may have noticed, the spirit of the ceremonial event was dampened by a downpour which persisted throughout the Prime Minister's speech.

Senate Swearing Was Staid

And while the new House of Representatives got underway at 10:00 am, one hour before that, the new Senate was sworn in. That's 7 new members, four returning members and one as yet un-appointed. Their event was held indoors in the House Chamber and here's how it looked:

Jules Vasquez reporting
The new senators hobnobbed and pleasantries were exchanged across the floor. They even took a group picture. 5 new faces for the UDP holdover senators from the PUP until a new leader is elected.

By tradition, they had to fetch President Lee Mark Chang who gave a brief address

Lee Mark Chang, President of The senate
"I would like to express my grateful thanks for the high honors that you have been pleased to confer me and I give members my solemn assurance that I shall do everything in my powers to make sure that the proceedings of the House are carried out with dignity and impartiality."

Hon. Lisa Shoman, PUP Senator
"It's a mark of high honor I think Mr. President that you are one of these first in this chamber and again, we are happy to have you as our president. We don't promise you that we will always agree with you, but we promise you that we will always work with you in harmony for betterment of Belize."

Lee Mark Chang, President of The senate
"I spent some good hours preparing and I intend to spend weeks more now to catch up on the parliamentary skills."

After that Dr. Carla Barnett was nominated as Vice President of the Senate: After all oaths were taken we spoke to some of the new senators:

Jules Vasquez
"Explain to me how does it feel, you are a senator?"

Hon. Ashley Rocke, Senator for Churches
"New. Exciting. I guess the task of being the senator for the churches is going to be - I suppose it comes with its own challenges. But I am prepared to take on the challenge and do the best I can."

Jules Vasquez
"Explain to me how you fit into the whole political matrix of being appointed a senator by the UDP?"

Hon. Aldo Salazar, UDP Senator
"Well it was simple. The Prime Minister call on me and ask if I would be interested and I said yes."

"Traditionally in the senate is that the opposition senators vote one way and the government senators vote all of them another way. Can we look at maybe a little more independence in terms of the way votes are taken?"

Hon. Aldo Salazar, UDP Senator
"If you heard the oath I took, I know everybody took the same oath. I can't say what will happen in the future. We have to look and see and wait and see what develops. I can't really say that we will vote a certain way. We need to look at see what comes up before us."

Jules Vasquez
"Is this a concern for you because sometimes the government does need 6 of its votes and the casting vote of the president as the case may be?"

Hon. Godwin Hulse, UDP Senator
"Well I always think we will get it. I don't see any defectors. But nevertheless, it's not a concern. This is my 4th term as you know and I have managed the last senate with a fairly good balance in terms of who, after we have discuss, who will respond to what and when and I think we will do the same."

The National Trade Union Congress of Belize and the Civil Society Steering Committee have not yet agreed on their single senatorial appointment.

Channel 7

#509131 - 11/14/15 08:17 AM Re: Summoning of the 12th National Assembly of Belize [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,310
Katie Valk Offline
Katie Valk  Offline
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