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Nov 13, 2015

Inaugural Sitting of the House of Representatives in Belmopan

Today members of both houses of the National Assembly were officially sworn in at an inaugural sitting on Independence Hill in Belmopan. The procedure was primarily ceremonial, conducted with traditional pomp, protocol and political presence of thirty-one elected area representatives and twelve senators. Mike Rudon was in Belmopan as forty-three Belizeans placed their hands on the Bible and swore to serve all…without fear or favour. Here’s the story. 


Mike Rudon, Reporting

At nine this morning, the new Senate was sworn in. There are some new faces in the Chamber this term – namely President Lee Mark Chang, U.D.P. appointees Aldo Salazar, Carla Barnett, Francine Burns, Steve Duncan and Macario Coy and Church Representative Pastor Ashley Rocke. Following Chang’s brief inaugural speech, all took their oath of office.


Lee Mark Chang

Lee Mark Chang, President of the Senate

“The feeling is great. I don’t know how to express it. The feeling is great. It has been a long way and I thank the Prime Minister for giving me the opportunity to serve my country.”


Aldo Salazar, Senator, United Democratic Party

“The business of government has always attracted me and I think that I can make a contribution to Belize and that’s really what I’m in it to do.”


Aldo Salazar

From there it was on to the business of the House of Representatives – conducted outside the literal house on the steps of Independence Hill. All thirty-one representatives were present and accounted for, including newly re-elected Speaker of the House Michael Peyrefitte. He called the House to order, but the debates we’ve come to expect will be for another day. Today’s only political business was a statement from Prime Minister Dean Barrow – completely devoid of boasting, grandstanding, clever insults and taunts.


Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“As critical as all elections are and this election was, what happens after elections matters just as much as what happens at the election. The Party banners are being lowered and the poster colours of red and blue and green will soon fade. And as we put away the paraphernalia of one P…it is time to embrace that other P…the P we should value most…the P that stands for the people.”


And by people, the Prime Minister was clear that he is referring to all Belizeans…not only those in constituents represented by the U.D.P.


Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Into what conditions are our children being born? How are they to be nurtured in their early years? Will they have access to the best schools and the best teachers? What jobs and pay will their parents receive? Are their communities getting safer and more productive? Will their grandparents retire in dignity and respect and will these children inherit a nation of patriots ready to sacrifice all in the defence of national sovereignty? For this new National Assembly, there can only be one way to answer. We must ensure and we must guarantee the progress and the commitment and the advances and the improvements that the circumstances of our people and the needs of our beloved Belize press so urgently upon us.”


The PM says that in that context, the Cabinet will now embark on a revitalized enterprise of uplift, engagement and construction.


Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“We do so at every level of our community, every sector of our society. There is no ambiguity about our mandate…no imbalance nationally or regionally in the support for our refreshed covenant with the people. Thus, recharged and reinvigorated, we shall move forward with our plans and programs to raise livelihoods, expand education and health, build national infrastructure. We shall empower the young and honour the old. We shall grow the economy and increase business. We shall husband the nation’s wealth and steward its resources. Above all, we shall conduct the operation of government with integrity as we search for that spot in the affairs of this country where honesty, equality, truth and justice finally prevail.”


The government speech was presented by Governor-General Sir Colville Young Senior. Because the sitting was ceremonial, there were no addresses by the Opposition members. Mike Rudon for News Five.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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