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Mar 21, 2012

Ceremonial Opening of House of Representatives

Cabinet met this week in its first session since the March seventh elections and this morning in open-air, the ceremonial opening of the National Assembly took place. As is traditional, the Throne Speech was delivered by Governor General Sir Colville Young followed by a shorter statement by the Prime Minister. The elected representatives and the new Speaker of the House, all took the oath of office. News Five’s Jose Sanchez captured the pageantry of the occasion.

Jose Sanchez, Reporting

Family members, associates and diplomats gathered under a tent laid out on the steps of parliament as the thirty one elected Area Representatives sat facing them at the bottom of the hill.  After the Prime Minister made his way down the stairs, the sounding of a horn, signaled the beginning of the pomp and pageantry of the ceremonial opening of the national assembly. The gallery stood to its feet as the P.M. then stood alone in white shirt and red tie and embraced the  B.D.F. band’s  rendition national anthem.

Across the compound by the market, the supporters in blue and red shirts stood hungrily awaiting a glimpse of their preferred politician.  The P.M. then inspected the soldiers.

The House of Representatives was dissolved on February third, 2012 and today it was reconvened. The first order was the nomination of a new speaker of the house, Michael Peyrefitte.

Master of Ceremonies

“Since there is no other nomination, I declare honorable Michael Peyrefitte as the speaker of the house. I would like to ask the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister to accompany me to fetch him.”

And fetch him, they did. Peyrefitte is charged to use all his weight of his office to control the house divided, 17 to 14.

Michael Peyrefitte, Speaker of the House

“Having been informed that I am the object of choice of the honorable house, of a high and responsible office of speaker and though I am but able to fulfill the important duties laid upon my shoulders and unworthy of the high honor which the house has been pleased to confer upon me. It is with thanks that I submit myself to the will of the house whose servant I now am.”

The man charged with clearing the house, when Peyrefitte is away, is Edmond Castro. The P.M. swore the oath followed by his deputy, Gaspar Vega.

The government  representatives then swore the oath.

Patrick Faber

Michael Finnegan

“I, Patrick Jason Faber, do swear that I will bear true faith and allegiance to Belize.”

Michael Finnegan

“I, Michael Kwame Finnegan, do swear that I will bear true faith and allegiance to Belize and will uphold the constitution and the law and that I will conscientiously, impartially and to the best of my ability discharge my duties.”

John Saldivar

“I John Berchman Saldivar, do swear that I will bear true faith and allegiance to Belize and will uphold the constitution and the law.”

Elvin Penner

Elvin Penner

“I, Elvin Penner, do affirm that I will bear true faith and allegiance to Belize and will uphold the constitution and the law.”

Santiago Castillo

“I, Santiago Santino Castillo, do swear that I will bear due faith and allegiance to Belize.”

After the governments’ seventeen representatives were finished, the fourteen opposition members, starting with Leader Francis Fonseca, swore the oath.

Francis Fonseca

“I, Francis Fonseca, do swear that I will bear true faith and allegiance to Belize and will uphold the constitution and the law and that I will conscientiously, impartially and to the best of my ability discharge my duties as member of the House of Representatives.”

Said Musa

John Saldivar

“I, Said Wilbert Musa, do swear that I will bear true faith and allegiance to Belize and will uphold the constitution and the law and that I will conscientiously, impartially and to the best of my ability discharge my duties.”

John Briceño

“I, Johnny Briceño, do swear that I will bear true faith and allegiance to Belize and will uphold the constitution and the law and that I will conscientiously, impartially and to the best of my ability discharge my duties as member of House of Representatives.”

After being escorted to the podium, the Governor General Sir Colville Young was invited to read the government’s speech, which in twenty-five minutes total outlined plans for the next five years.

Colville Young

Sir Colville Young, Governor General

“While much as been achieved during the last term of office, my government will continue to focus on economic and social programs, infrastructure and physical development, national security and public safety and delivery of government services. We will pursue all these and more under the principles of good governance, honesty and transparency.”

In the speech the government promised thousands of jobs.

Sir Colville Young

“My government will put systems in place to expand the business processing outsourcing industry including call centers with the objectives of creating five thousand new jobs by 2017. These plans and objectives will allow us to achieve our tourism targets over the next five years. These targets include increasing the number of visitors by ten percent and five percent for the overnight sector and cruise tourism sector respectively. Increasing hotel accommodation by an additional one thousand two hundred hotel rooms. And increasing sector employment by an  additional two thousand five hundred tourism jobs.”

Dean Barrow

The Prime Minister also resounded the plans for the next five years.

Dean Barrow

“The new Government won the majority of the popular vote as well as of the seats in the House. Add to this its two thirds share of the nine city and town Councils, and the mandate is undoubted. Nevertheless, the Opposition’s strong general election showing demonstrates that we are a country that is divided almost down the middle. In such circumstances the Government must and will act on the basis that the nation’s large minority is to be respected both as to its rights and as to its entitlements. Mr. Speaker, there are some that feel that the last U.D.P. Administration was in a number of instances tone deaf to public opinion. Assuming that this was so, the greatly reduced majority will in and of itself act as a check to any such tendency. But the new Government also actively seeks reconciliation.”

Reconciliation for the administration is reaching out to civil society and appointing senators who have well known backgrounds and qualifications.  Now that the ceremony is over, parliament will leave the stairs and return to the battlefield inside the House with almost equal numbers. Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

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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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