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Belize - Government

Belize is a parliamentary democracy based on the Westminster model and is a member of the Commonwealth. Queen Elizabeth II is head of state and is represented in the country by a Governor General. The primary executive organ of government is the cabinet, led by a prime minister (head of government). Cabinet ministers are members of the majority political party in parliament and usually hold elected seats in the National Assembly concurrently with their cabinet positions.

General Elections are held at intervals of not longer than five years. The voting age is 18. The Prime Minister has the right to advise the Governor-General to dissolve the National Assembly and so determine the date of the general elections.

The Cabinet consists of a Prime Minister, other Ministers and Ministers of State who are appointed by the Governor-General on the advice of the Prime Minister, the person commanding the support of the majority party in the House of Representatives. Six Senators are appointed by the Governor-General on the advice of the Prime Minister, three on the advice of the Leader of the Opposition, one on the advice of the Belize Council of Churches and Evangelical Association of Churches, one on the advice of the Belize Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Belize Business Bureau and one on the advice of the National Trade Union Congress and Civil Society Steering Committee.

The National Assembly consists of a House of Representatives and a Senate. The Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate are elected either from among the members of these Houses (providing they are not ministers) or from among persons who are not members of either House.

The 31 members of the House are popularly elected to a maximum 5-year term.

The governor general appointed the Senate's 12 members. Six are appointed in accordance with the advice of the prime minister, 3 with the advice of the leader of the opposition. The Belize Council of Churches and the Evangelical Association of Churches, the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Belize Business Bureau, and the National Trade Union Congress and the Civil Society Steering Committee each advise the Governor General on the appointment of one senator each. (A majority of Belizeans who decided to participate in the referendum held along with the national elections on February 7, 2008 voted in favor of a change from the appointed Senate to an elected one. This change tooke effect during the next general election, in early 2013. The Senate is headed by a president, who is a non-voting member appointed by the governing party.

Members of the independent judiciary are appointed. The judicial system includes local magistrates, the Supreme Court, and the Court of Appeal. In 2001 Belize joined with most members of the Caribbean Common Market (CARICOM) to establish a "Caribbean Court of Justice," which was inaugurated on April 16, 2005. In June 2010, the Belizean Government made the Caribbean Court of Justice the highest court for Belize, replacing the Privy Council in London.

There are six administrative districts: Belize, Cayo, Corozal, Orange Walk, Stann Creek and Toledo. With the abolition of the posts of District Officers, the district administration is now jointly run by a number of Government functionaries, namely Finance Officers, the Officer commanding the District Police and the Heads of various Government departments based in the districts. Each district town has a locally elected Town Council of seven members. The Cayo district has two Town Councils, namely, San Ignacio and Benque Viejo.

Belize City is administered by a nine-member City Council. There is also a Town Council in the Belize District, namely San Pedro Town Council in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. The Capital city of Belmopan is administered by the Belmopan City Council. A Village council Act (SI No. 100 of 2003) was enacted to formally establish Village Councils.

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Page last modified: 31-03-2021 10:58:49 ZULU