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Feb 28, 2003

Party supporters face off but cooler heads prevail

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As the election campaign of 2003 winds down to its final weekend, it is no surprise that tensions are running high. One indication of the adrenaline level occurred this morning in Belize City when for a few minutes it looked like Belize’s tradition of peaceful electioneering might be in jeopardy. But, as News 5′s Jacqueline Woods found out, it was more about fun than fighting.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting

There were no fistfights or hair pulling, just a lot of political posturing and teasing between the red and the blue. A crowd of supporters from the United Democratic Party and the People’s United Party gathered in front of Love FM’s building on Freetown Road.

Initially a crowd of U.D.P supporters had congregated outside of the radio station to wait for their party leader, Dean Barrow who was inside being interviewed on the morning show. Though his opponent, Dickie Bradley, was not on the scene, it did not take long for his supporters to join in the political hoopla.

At one point the demonstrators did cause a traffic jam as vehicles had difficulty going through the crowd that had moved into the street. The police responded and motorists managed to pass without incident. However, authorities remained at the location to ensure that nothing would go wrong.

G. Michael Reid, Police Press Officer

“We certainly in a democratic society do not try and stop people from voicing their opinions and having peaceful demonstrations to express their feelings. We would hope though that common sense will prevail and that cooler heads will over come those hot-headed few who tend to get in there just to cause problems.”

Jacqueline Woods

“Now I noticed that quite a number of police have arrived on the scene, exactly what is it that they’re doing?”

G. Michael Reid

“We we are only monitoring the situation and maintaining space between the two groups. We are not going to be involved one way or the other. You know the police exist regardless of who is in government, so certainly we exist primarily to protect the interest of the common citizen. And we cannot take sides one way or the other. All we can do is do what we can to maintain law and order.”

Jacqueline Woods

“What do you think about the gathering out here?”

Dean Barrow, Leader of the Opposition

“Democracy in action, but U.D.P. ready.”

Jacqueline Woods

“Is this something that you would encourage or discourage because of the possibility of it inciting violence?”

Dean Barrow

“I’m sure that the police can take care of business, and our supporters are not into violence, so we had no fear about that.”

Following Barrow’s departure, the supporters dispersed and things returned to normal. Jacqueline Woods for News 5.

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