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Jul 13, 1998

Election day set for August 27th

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We are not really sure when the 1998 election campaign actually started — indeed it may have begun on July first, 1993 — but at least we now know when it will end. Patrick Jones was on hand for the Prime Minister’s big announcement on Sunday and files the following report.

Thousands of U.D.P. supporters from virtually every part of the country, despite a World Cup final and triple digit temperature readings, converged on Bird’s Isle for the party’s special convention.

All twenty-nine U.D.P. standard bearers led their people in a march from Cinderella Plaza through downtown Belize City to the island. The day’s program got started with presentations by selected standard bearers: Faith Babb, Derek Aikman, Hubert Elrington, Ruben Campos, and Dean Barrow.

Prime Minister Manuel Esquivel, outlined what he called a number of shocks that his government has had to endure over the last five years. Still the P.M. said his party has coped, and coped well, earning the U.D.P. another five years at the helm. Then came the most anticipated announcement of the day.

Manuel Esquivel, Prime Minister

“My friends, the job of re-constructions is not done; the job of building the nation is never done. But we know that there is a team that can do the job; the only team this nation can trust and it is after all, it’s all about trust.

We are here today to launch the official campaign of the U.D.P. team. We are here today to begin the march on victory road. So, with the blessing of God and the support of the Belizean people, we shall go to the polls on Thursday the twenty seventh day of August, confident, confident that we shall return to Belmopan to continue, to continue the good work we have started for five more years.”

That having been said, and the drumbeats ended, the U.D.P. now turns its full attention to winning the August 27 poll. National Campaign Manager Dean Lindo says the elections is all about trust.

Dean Lindo, National Campaign Manager, U.D.P.

“We want to deal with the issues because the party has a good record. That is what it’s all about as far as I am concerned.”

But the opponent that the U.D.P. is facing this time around is not the P.U.P. that lost in 1993. Lindo believes the changes in the People’s United Party will actually work to the advantage of the U.D.P.

Dean Lindo

“We are very happy about that, because ever since this new P.U.P. started to flex their muscles the stocks of the U.D.P. has risen. It’s a completely different ball game now and we’re very happy about that – very happy with this new leadership. This leadership more wants to terrorize the country. We are exceedingly happy about that.”

Q: “You also have some newcomers to your party, won’t those deflect from your chance of winning?”

Dean Lindo

“Oh no. As a matter of fact, the new ones are very good-looking candidates. You have Ryan Pennil in Toledo East who is going to win. In fact I’m going to tell you something better than that, he is going to win in Independence by about some three hundred votes; we’ll beat them. So he’s going to win. Erwin Contreras is going to win. Sylvestre is a new candidate in the sense he’s new for the U.D.P.; he’s going to win. And Freddy Martinez is going to win. They are all good looking candidates.”

But elections are not always beauty contests. With the race now officially on, Belize’s most bitterly fought campaign is not expected to turn nice anytime soon. Viewers, hold on to you hats. Patrick Jones for News Five.

The U.D.P. manifesto is still not available for distribution but prominent among the party resolutions passed on Sunday were a number having to do with political reform. If elected the party promised to retain the present system of constitutional monarchy and bicameral legislature but committed itself to consult with the electorate on a number of concepts, including campaign finance reform, the appointment of ministers from outside the legislature, and prohibiting the crossing of the floor by House members unless they first face a bi-election.

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