Belize Prime Minister Dean Barrow has today announced General Elections for 7 March 2012. In an official press release issued today by the Government Press Office Mr. Barrow who was elected to office for a five year term on 7 February 2008, stated that he had called on Governor General Sir Colville Young to dissolve the National Assembly on Friday February 3rd and set the date for Belize general elections one year before they are due. In his statement to the nation aired on all radio and television stations this morning Mr. Barrow said that as municipal elections are due on March 7th, he had decided to have General Elections on the same date to save resources and expenses. Under Belize law municipal elections are held every 3 years and General Elections every 5 years. The dates for municipal elections are set but the general elections can be called at any time with the prime minister giving 30 days notice.
Local observers have some months now been predicting early elections as the timing appears to be right for the ruling United Democratic Party. The opposition People’s United Party has been in disarray for some time now having undergone a change of leadership last year when party leader John Briceno stepped down. The UDP meanwhile has been facing economic challenges that can be expected to worsen as the country faces ballooning debt payments on its Super Bond payment schedule. While this debt was inherited from the previous government of the Peoples United Party, the current government further increased the country’s debt when it expropriated the telephone and electricity companies from British and Canadian investors last year. Court battles and the possibility of it having to pay compensation may have added to the urgency of holding elections before the economic climate worsens some observers believe.