Opposition party politician Johnny Briceno has become the new Prime Minister of Belize, with the country’s long-time premier Dean Barrow’s United Democratic Party (UDP) suffering a humiliating defeat in the general elections held earlier this month.
Briceno’s People’s United Party (PUP) has won more than 80% of parliamentary seats. Sixty-year-old Barrow did not run for the office this time, but his sister and a son were there in the contest.
Patrick Faber, whom the UDP projected as its prime minister candidate, has accepted defeat, vowing to support the new administration in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While there were winners and losers, the democracy that we have continued to enjoy throughout the life of this great young nation is by far the greatest winner today,” said Faber.
A country of barely 400,000 people, Belize’s economy took a devastating blow when its tourism industry came to a screeching halt following the outbreak of coronavirus.
Belize has recently reopened its international airports, but international travelers are still avoiding visiting the country.
“Today begins the work of putting the country on the path of recovery in the short term, and growth in the medium and long term,” Briceno said in a televised speech.
Barrow, who led the country for more than 12 years, was often accused of corruption and nepotism.