Thu | Nov 26, 2020

Opposition party in Belize wins general election, promises national unity

Published:Thursday | November 12, 2020 | 9:35 AM
John Briceno - Contributed photo

BELMOPAN, Belize, CMC – The main opposition People’s United Party (PUP) romped home to a convincing victory in Wednesday’s general election and urged the entire nation to come together to build a “better Belize” in the future.

Preliminary reports give the PUP as many as 27 of the 31 seats in the Parliament, representing what television commentators were claiming to be “the new Blue wall” in Belize.

“So join us, Thank you Belize, thank you so much, stay safe, God bless you and God bless our beloved Belize,” PUP leader John Briceno told a small gathering as many supporters were prevented from attending the ceremony due to the curfew that has been in place in a bid to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Briceno acknowledged that he had received a telephone call from the leader of the United Democratic Party (UDP), Patrick Faber, who was leading the ruling party into a general election for the first time since outgoing Prime Minister Dean Barrow had earlier announced his retirement from active politics.

The UDP was seeking an unprecedented fourth consecutive term in office, having won the 2015 general election by a 17 to 14 margin under Barrow.

“It is with extreme gratitude that I address our nation tonight fully aware that this 2020 election is a clarion call for our young nation to grow up, to face the challenges of our generation and to advance our peaceful and progressive revolutions,” Briceno said.

“But most importantly to bring our people together as never before so that as one we can build a nation where everyone matters and everyone is once again a proud Belizean,” added Briceno, thanking his family including “my wife who is very emotional” and party supporters for the victory.

In conceding defeat, Faber, in a brief statement, said that he was wishing the PUP and Briceno “a successful administration.

“I call on all our people UDP’s, PUP’s and those that voted for the third party and independent candidates to choose national unity as we band together in the face of the challenges, we will no doubt face.

“While there were winners and losers, the democracy that we have continued to enjoy throughout the life of this great young nation is by far the greatest winner today,” said Faber.

The polls were held against concerns of a stagnant economy and rising coronavirus (COVID-19) infections.

The Election and Boundaries Department said that at least 80 per cent of the 182,815 voters had cast their ballots in the election.

Thirty-one seats in the House of Representatives were at stake in the ninth parliamentary elections since Belize became independent in 1981.

There were 88 candidates representing four political parties and several independents.

Follow The Gleaner on Twitter and Instagram @JamaicaGleaner and on Facebook @GleanerJamaica. Send us a message on WhatsApp at 1-876-499-0169 or email us at onlinefeedback@gleanerjm.com or editors@gleanerjm.com.