Belize elects opposition leader to succeed retiring prime minister
Official results will be announced on Thursday by Belize's chief elections officer, Josephine Tamai. "Today begins the work of putting the country on the path of recovery in the short term, and growth in the medium and long term," said Briceno in a televised victory speech late Wednesday.Reuters | Belmopan | Updated: 12-11-2020 22:07 IST | Created: 12-11-2020 22:02 IST
Belize resoundingly voted to elect opposition leader Johnny Briceno to replace longtime Prime Minister Dean Barrow in Wednesday's general election as the Central American nation seeks to revive an economy battered by the coronavirus pandemic.
The leader of Barrow's conservative United Democratic Party (UDP), Patrick Faber, conceded defeat to Briceno in a speech posted on Facebook on Wednesday night. Officials from Briceno's center-left People's United Party (PUP) said the party won 16 of 31 parliamentary seats, compared with five seats for the UDP. Official results will be announced on Thursday by Belize's chief elections officer, Josephine Tamai.
"Today begins the work of putting the country on the path of recovery in the short term, and growth in the medium and long term," said Briceno in a televised victory speech late Wednesday. The election came at a time of widespread discontent over the state of Belize's economy, which was in the doldrums long before measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus decimated tourism, the main driver of prosperity.
Voters cheered the PUP's win on Thursday, saying they were ready for a change after Barrow, who is stepping down, ruled the country for more than a dozen years. "I feel happy and relieved that many people flipped (parties) because it just shows how desperately we want a change," said Halle Popper, who works as a teacher.
The Caribbean country's economy shrank on an annual basis in every quarter from April-June last year through to the second quarter of 2020, the latest period for which data is available, according to government statistics. In his concession speech, Faber celebrated the democratic process in the former British colony.
"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," he said.
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