Maybe he was tired after a hard day, but the Prime Minister wasn’t in any mood to “longbench” at the historic Independence Hall. Or maybe his faithful followers weren’t in any mood for their beloved leader to be grilled by sometimes seemingly not so friendly journalists.
The day started for the Prime Minister with a prayer breakfast at the Princess Hotel. The media wasn’t invited to this one, but somehow Love FM found their way there to pray along with the PM and his crowd, and to get the scoop on the date for general elections. Hn!
This afternoon, while party faithful dressed in blue milled in the street downstairs, and journalists bit their thumbs waiting for the invitation to go upstairs to the party, the PM and his candidates and their inner circle huddled in Independence Hall. When the invitation came a full half-hour late to go upstairs to the hallowed Hall of the party, there was a rush, as party field generals jostled to be in on the historic moment. Somehow, the invited journalists navigated the course and so were able to record the official kick-off of election campaign 2008, for the defense.
At precisely 4:00 p.m. the audience rose as one, cheering their party leader, Right Honorable Said Musa, as he took his place at the head table. On his immediate flanks were the party’s two female candidates, the only two ladies contesting the general elections for the nation’s two major political parties – Mrs. Carolyn Trench-Sandiford (Collet), and Ms. Merlene Spain (Belize Rural South). On the left arm of Ms. Spain sat the PUP party’s new “fair haired boy” – Hon. Francis Fonseca. On the right arm of Mrs. Caroline sat the Leader Emeritus, Father of the Nation, Right Honorable George Cadle Price. On the right wing, and the left wing of the Hall, just a breath away, sat the PUP’s 29 other candidates. Down in the gallery, boisterous party faithful and the journalists fought for space on the floor.
After greeting his adoring people, the PM made a brief statement in which he covered some of the election formalities. He announced that nomination day would be on January 21, 2008. He called for a clean campaign and safe elections. After the formalities were done, the two-term Prime Minister then allowed for questions from the journalists in attendance.
The PM said that his party’s manifesto would be out by the end of the month. The Prime Minister said that the reason why (or was it, one of the reasons?) the referendum on the elected Senate will be held the same day as the general election was to keep the cost down. He said that modern Belize was ready for an elected Senate, and that his party would be suggesting a model to the nation by next week. He said his party was big on women, having given Belizean women big posts in the country, and having two of them in his 31. No, he was not aware that his party was outspending the main Opposition party in the election. He was sorry if the trade union leaders didn’t want a raise of pay, but he was sure that the Belizean workers wanted theirs.
To almost every response from the Prime Minister, there was loud applause from all the party faithful in the small room. All too quickly, barely 15 minutes from the start of the show, the Prime Minister rose from his seat (more loud applause), dismissing the eager journalists who only wanted to find out more and more and more.
On Tuesday, the primary Opposition party will have their day in the sun, or in the shade, rather, at the Caracol Room of the Radisson Fort George. We look forward to a sea of red, and loud applause from the fawning gallery to every utterance of their party leader. Thus it will be until election day…30 long, hard, exciting days…until the dust settles.