Belizeans vote on March 7 for a new government

He said that the National Assembly will be dissolved on Friday and Nomination Day will be February 17.

“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 unfavourable international climate,” Prime Minister Barrow said.

In the February 2008 general elections, Barrow’s United Democratic Party (UDP) won 25 of the 31 seats with the remaining six going to the People’s United Party (PUP).

In his national broadcast, Barrow said he had been “proud and grateful” to lead the UDP government since February 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,” Barrow said as he announced the early poll.

He said economic growth has been consistent “despite the continuing global crisis, despite the vagaries of nature, despite freak storms and hurricanes, and despite the super bond”.

He said that his administration had also given income tax relief to all employees on fixed salaries, adding “we have, for the first time in our nation’s history, chartered comprehensive pro-poor and pro- people programmes” that included monthly cost-of-living allowances, subsidized food baskets, and cash transfers to thousands of families.

Outlining the number of achievements he said his government had recorded during the four years in office, Prime Minister Barrow said “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.”

He said he had called the election seeking 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.”

Prime Minister Barrow told the nation he was also seeking their “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” among a number of initiatives.

“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.”

Prime Minister Barrow reminded the country that Belize has an “enviable record for peaceful elections” and that he was appealing “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,” he added.

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