Belizeans will vote for a new government on November 11 after Prime Minister Dean Barrow, who is bowing out of active politics, announced that he had advised the Governor Genera, Sir Colville Norbert Young, to dissolve the National Assembly on Tuesday.
Barrow said he had advised the Head of State that the elections will be held on November 11, 2020. Nomination Day will be October 21.
The brief statement from the Office of the Prime Minister noted that “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”.
Like many other Caribbean countries that have held general elections this year, Belize’s poll will also be held during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that has resulted in countries implementing various protocols and measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus that has killed 30 people and infected 2, 204 people.
Among the measures include a limit on the number of people who can congregate at any one time, as well as practising social distancing.
The Elections and Boundaries Department will be presiding over a process that will result in an estimated 90 per cent of the electorate – 170,000 registered voters –casting ballots on Election Day.
Barrow will not lead the ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) into the next general elections, having already announced his retirement from active politics.
His successor as party leader, Education Minister Patrick Faber is set to formally take over the reins of the UDP on Thursday when he will be introduced to supporters as the official successor to Barrow who has remained at the helm since 1998.
The event will be televised and is also feature the UDP standard-bearers of the remaining thirty constituencies.
In 2015, Barrow led the UDP to a record third term in a snap general election after his party gained a clear majority in parliament.
The UDP had won 19 of the 31 seats in the Parliament.
Opposition leader John Briceno, has been urging the population to replace the ruling party with the People’s United Party (PUP) in the November poll.
“Well first of all, I think this was the worse kept secret in the entire country of Belize because everybody was talking about the eleventh of November and now that the announcement has been made it is almost anticlimactic that the Prime Minister further made the announcement. But before I get into that let me just say quickly that I wish the Prime Minister well.
“He is retiring and I wish him well and his family. As to whether we are ready, we have been ready for a long time. We have been doing a lot of work over the past five years under my leadership and we are organizing the party, uniting the party, putting in the groundwork because a lot of what you see today is a lot of groundwork that we have been doing, visiting the communities, villages, the towns the cites for us to be able to be in a position where would be ready to take on the reins of government,” Briceno said.
Apart from Barrow, a number of prominent politicians will also not be contesting the elections. They include former prime minister Said Musa, who retired from public life due to illness, after 40 years and Foreign Affairs Minister, Wilfred ‘Sedi’ Elrington who is also retiring from electoral politics.
Former deputy prime minister Gaspar Vega is also not contesting the polls.