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Politics of Belize

Politics of Belize

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Government Belize is a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy on the Westminster model and is a member of the Commonwealth. Queen Elizabeth II is head of state and is represented in the country by Governor General Dr. Colville N. Young, Sr., a Belizean and Belize's second governor general. The primary executive organ of government is the Cabinet led by a prime minister (head of government). Cabinet ministers are members of the majority political party in Parliament and usually hold elected seats in the National Assembly concurrently with their Cabinet positions.

The National Assembly consists of a House of Representatives and a Senate. The 29 members of the House are popularly elected to a maximum 5-year term. Of the Senate's eight members, five are elected by the prime minister, two by the leader of the opposition, and one by the governor general on the advice of the Belize Advisory Council. The Senate is headed by a president who is a non-voting member appointed by the governing party.

Currently, the Belize Government is controlled by the People's United Party[?] (PUP) which won 26 of the 29 seats in the House of Representatives on August 27, 1998. The United Democratic Party (UDP) won the other three seats. Dean Barrow[?] is the leader of the opposition. The UDP governed Belize from 1993-98; the PUP had governed from 1989-93; and the UDP from 1984-89. Before 1984, the PUP had dominated the electoral scene for more than 30 years and was the party in power when Belize became independent in 1981.

Prime Minister Said Musa has an ambitious plan to encourage economic growth while furthering social-sector development. Belize traditionally maintains a deep interest in the environment and sustainable development. A lack of government resources seriously hampers these goals. On other fronts the Government is working to improve its law enforcement capabilities. A long-running territorial dispute with Guatemala continues although cooperation between the two countries has increased in recent years across a wide spectrum of common interests, including trade and environment. Seeing itself as a bridge, Belize is actively involved with the Caribbean nations of CARICOM, and also has taken steps to work more closely with its Central American neighbors as a new member of SICA[?].

Members of the independent judiciary are appointed. The judicial system includes local magistrates, the Supreme Court, and the Court of Appeal. Cases may under certain circumstances be appealed to the Privy Council in London. However, in 2001, Belize joined with most members of CARICOM to campaign for the establishment of a "Caribbean Court of Justice." The country is divided into six districts: Corozal District, Orange Walk District, Belize District, Cayo District, Stann Creek District, and Toledo District.

The Belize Defense Force (BDF), established in January 1973, consists of a light infantry force of regulars and reservists along with small air and maritime wings. The BDF, currently under the command of Brig. Gen. Cedric Borland, assumed total defense responsibility from British Forces Belize (BFB) on January 1, 1994. The United Kingdom continues to maintain the British Army Training Support Unit Belize (BATSUB) to assist in the administration of the Belize Jungle School. The BDF receives military assistance from the United States and the United Kingdom.

Principal Government Officials

  • Head of State--Queen Elizabeth II
  • Governor General--Sir Colville N. Young, Sr.
  • Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Foreign Affairs--Said Musa
  • Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Natural Resources, the Environment, and Industry--John Briceņo
  • Senior Minister--George Price[?]
  • Minister of Public Utilities, Energy, Communications, and Immigration--Maxwell Samuels
  • Minister of National Security and Economic Development--Jorge Espat
  • Minister of Budget Planning and Management, Investment, and Trade --Ralph Fonseca
  • Minister of Sugar Industry, Local Government, and Labor--Valdemar Castillo
  • Minister of Human Development, Women, and Civil Society--Dolores Balderamos-Garcia
  • Minister of Health and Public Services--Jose Coye
  • Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Cooperatives--Daniel Silva
  • Minister of Works, Transport, Citrus and Banana Industries--Henry Canton
  • Minister of Education and Sports--Cordel Hyde
  • Minister of Tourism and Youth--Mark Espat
  • Minister of Rural Development and Culture -- Marcial Mes
  • Minister of Housing, Urban Renewal, and Home Affairs--Richard Bradley
  • Attorney General and Minister of Information -- Godfrey Smith
  • Minister of State in the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment --Servulo Baeza
  • Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry--Patricia Arceo
  • Ambassador to the United Nations--Stewart Leslie

Country name:

conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Belize
former: British Honduras
Data code: BH

  • Government type: parliamentary democracy
  • Capital: Belmopan
  • Administrative divisions: 6 districts; Belize, Cayo, Corozal, Orange Walk, Stann Creek, Toledo
  • Independence: 21 September 1981 (from UK)
  • National holiday: Independence Day, 21 September (1981)
  • Constitution:21 September 1981
  • Legal system: English law
  • Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
  • Executive branch:
    • Chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952), represented by Governor General Sir Colville YOUNG (since 17 November 1993)
    • head of government: Prime Minister Said MUSA (since 27 August 1998); Deputy Prime Minister John BRICENO (since 1 September 1998)
    • cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister
    • elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch; governor general appoints the member of the House of Representatives who is leader of the majority party to be prime minister
  • Legislative branch: bicameral National Assembly consists of the Senate (eight members, five appointed on the advice of the prime minister, two on the advice of the leader of the opposition, and one by the governor general; members are appointed for five-year terms); and the House of Representatives (29 seats; members are elected by direct popular vote to serve five-year terms)
    • elections: House of Representatives - last held 27 August 1998 (next to be held NA August 2003)
    • election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PUP 26, UDP 3
  • Judicial branch: Supreme Court, the chief justice is appointed by the governor general on advice of the prime minister
  • Political parties and leaders: People's United Party or PUP [Said MUSA]; United Democratic Party or UDP [Manuel ESQUIVEL, Dean BARROW]
  • Political pressure groups and leaders: Society for the Promotion of Education and Research or SPEAR [Assad SHOMAN]; United Worker's Front
  • International organization participation: ACP, C, Caricom, CDB, ECLAC, FAO, G-77, IADB, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ITU, LAES, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WHO, WMO, WTrO
  • Flag description: blue with a narrow red stripe along the top and the bottom edges; centered is a large white disk bearing the coat of arms; the coat of arms features a shield flanked by two workers in front of a mahogany tree with the related motto SUB UMBRA FLOREO (I Flourish in the Shade) on a scroll at the bottom, all encircled by a green garland

Reference Much of the material in this article comes from the CIA World Factbook 2000 and the 2003 U.S. Department of State website.

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