Earlier this month, we told you that Sir Colville Young is stepping down as Governor General of Belize. He will vacate the post officially on the thirtieth of April. So Belize is expected to name a new individual to be considered as the next G.G. of Belize. Multiple credible reports coming out of government is that Froyla Tzalam is the name that Belize is putting forward to be the new Governor General. Tzalam is a Mopan Maya from San Antonio, Toledo who holds academic degrees in anthropology and rural development. Her work in Belize has been centered in the fields of history, indigenous rights and Maya culture. If Tzalam’s nomination is accepted, then she would become Belize’s third Governor General. But how does one’s name get submitted for consideration and what is the approval process like? News Five’s Andrea Polanco found out more.
Andrea Polanco, Reporting
Sir Colville Young has been Belize’s Governor General for the last eighteen years. He was first appointed in November 1993 and will officially end his almost two decades as GG at the end of this month. Sir Colville Young was preceded by Dame Elmira Minita Gordon. She was Belize’s first governor general from September 1981 through to November 1993.
The Governor General of Belize is a representative of the Head of State Queen Elizabeth the Second. He or she is a ceremonial figure, in that there is limited power that the Governor General can exercise. To the government of Belize, the GG is an executive authority so the government then cannot pass laws without the GG’s approval or signature.
But the Belize Constitution states when the GG is required to carry out a duty he or she “shall so do” in consultation which underscores that the GG has doesn’t have the authority to make decisions on his or her own. In special cases where the GG is required to act according to the Constitution, the GG must seek the advice and consensus of the Belize Advisory Council. According to our Constitution, the GG has the authority to appoint the Prime Minister and members of the Cabinet. Furthermore, that also comes with the authority to dismiss said government figures.
But who can become a governor general and what is required of the person whose name is submitted for consideration of this position? According to one former cabinet secretary, “The most important consideration is that the person must be a person of substance who can earn and maintain the respect of the people of this country.”
The highly educated citizen of Belize should also be able to garner respect from neighboring countries and the rest of the world, particularly The Commonwealth. The government, in consultation with Opposition, recommends this person of substance to be appointed as Governor General. That name goes to Buckingham Palace in the United Kingdom where the individual will be vetted and the name is then submitted to the Queen who later signs a letter of appointment naming that person as her representative in Belize. The appointed GG takes an oath of allegiance and he or she is immediately subject to the provision of the Constitution. A former cabinet secretary says that from that point, “it’s the job of the Governor General to ensure that the Constitution is followed because the executive authority in Belize is vested in the Governor General.” The GG holds office at the pleasure of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second
All Governors General in the Commonwealth serve in similar capacity as the GG in Belize. However, there are circumstances in the Commonwealth where some name changes have been made where a governor general have been replaced by a ceremonial president and, in some cases, an executive president who then becomes a head of state for that country. Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.