Wednesday, September 16th, 2015. BMG: Prime Minister Dean Barrow has been riding an unprecedented wave of success as his second consecutive term winds down and with the settlement of the Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL) nationalization with Lord Michael Ashcroft’s interests, his administration is set for general elections as early as November as many have speculated.
Barrow lead negotiations with Ashcroft to settle for a tentative total of BZ $162 million but that figure may yet increase as the final figures on share values will be decided by an arbitration tribunal.
Still, in any event, the settlement is a success for Barrow’s administration as many critics of the nationalization had predicted the looming ruling at the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) would have cost the government hundreds of millions in damages and legal fees.
Now, that litigation is being withdrawn, just a month before the next session of the CCJ, in which that case would have been argued. It seems a bit peculiar, however, that Ashcroft would abruptly withdraw such a claim, settling for just compensation of his acquired shares.
In any case, the government can put this settlement in the win column and use it for political leverage moving forward into election season.
If a November general elections, as speculated by many, is indeed to be had then it is likely that Barrow would make the announcement during his Independence Day speech, as he is known to use the opportunity to make big announcements every year.
Failing that, he would need to make the announcement in October, as the date for the elections need to be announced at least one month in advance.
Barrow has kept the date for the election a tightly guarded secret, saying in most public forums that he hasn’t even decided yet when the elections will be, but considering the circumstances and Barrow’s proven aptitude for political strategy, that seems highly unlikely.
The United Democratic Party (UDP), with a string of successes in recent months paralleled by the Opposition’s misfortunes and lack of mobilization, seems to have the stage set for what is perceived to be one of the easier election battles in recent memory. Of course, only time will tell if this is indeed the case and the voting public will ultimately be the ones to decide.
But with the recent BTL settlement, the Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) settlement with Fortis just a couple weeks before, the expansion of the National Bank, two by-election victories under their belt and a People’s United Party (PUP) struggling to put up a united front,
the UDP government is confident that they will, in fact, be the first political party to secure a third consecutive term in office in Belize.
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