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Jan 31, 2003

P.M.’s tour rolls into southside

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What started as a nationwide journey to inspect his government’s accomplishments and gauge the citizens reaction, has, not surprisingly, turned into a non-stop campaign photo-op in which no project is too small for a ceremonial ribbon cutting. Today Prime Minister Said Musa’s blue and white electoral machine pulled into Belize City, and returned to the scene of his party’s most significant 1998 achievement: the breaking of the U.D.P. electoral stranglehold on the southside. And as the P.M. made clear to News 5′s Janelle Chanona, he does not intend to turn back the clock.

Janelle Chanona, Reporting

Fuelled by the cheers of school children and the hugs of supporters, today, Prime Minister Musa barely had time for lunch as he toured the Southside of Belize City.

From schoolyards, to the Library of African and Indian Studies… to live radio interviews… to new streets and drainage projects, the Prime Minister made himself right at home in all the constituencies. His ability to do just that has become fodder for a series of catchy political ads…but scenes, like this side of Belizean life are more difficult to celebrate.

Janelle Chanona

“The Southside, do you think it will tarnish the image you are trying to boost during this tour in so far as that there are still hundreds of people in the southside living impoverished lives, in situations nobody should have to live in?”

Prime Minister Said Musa

There is always that danger coming that so close to the election to be visiting the southside when, as you rightly point out, this is a disadvantaged area but it has been, for many, many years. I think what people will look at is the fact that the glass is now half full as opposed to look at the half empty part of the glass. They speak for instance that we haven’t removed all the London bridges, that is true but look how many scores of London bridges have been taken down and new streets built.”

“So I believe that when people weigh it up, they will see that, yes, all has not been done, much more has to be done, but we have begun to address the serious housing problem in the Southside and the serious drainage problem. Because it’s not that we planned it that way, but this city was built on a swamp, so it’s a task for any government.”

In his own words, the purpose of the P.M.’s three-month tour was check up on the work done by the country’s other twenty-eight representatives. And with just over a month to “D-day”, already, political analysts believe some reps haven’t been cutting it, clearing the way for the U.D.P. to make inroads in those constituencies.

Prime Minister Said Musa

“I think the Collet division will remain with the People’s United Party, and I have absolutely no doubt that Dolores will deliver in the Port. You just need to look at the policies of the two parties, and in particular the candidates. Candidate to candidate, there is no doubt in my mind that Dolores will win the Port and Remijio, Collet Division.”

Janelle Chanona

“Another stop on the P.M.’s tour today was the opening of a new radio station, owned and managed by Remijio Montejo and his family. PRFM 94.5 is sure to do just that for Montejo in the coming months. Is the P.M. bothered by political propaganda hitting the airwaves fulltime?”

Prime Minister Said Musa

“Let’s put it this way, the Wave radio station is owned by Dean Barrow and he makes no bones about it, so it’s not unprecedented that politicians want to get involved in the media business. After all, a large part of their work is to do with the media and let’s be very upfront about that. But to answer your question, I’m not too sure that there is room for another radio station, but let the market forces decide that.”

Reporting for News 5, I am Janelle Chanona.

Speaking of the media and politics, sources in both parties tell News 5 that a date of February eighteenth has been selected for a public debate between the two party leaders. The debate, jointly sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and Business Bureau, will be aired live nationwide on radio and television.

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