BELIZE CITY (Reuters) – Belize is expected to announce the results of its general election on Thursday as longtime Prime Minister Dean Barrow steps down and the small Central American nation seeks to repair an economy battered by the coronavirus pandemic.
Barrow ran Belize for more than a dozen years, and his conservative United Democratic Party (UDP) is now in the hands of Patrick Faber.
Seeking a fourth consecutive term for the party, Faber faces a tough contest against challenger Johnny Briceno, a former deputy prime minister of the center-left People’s United Party (PUP), a longtime rival.
The election comes amid widespread discontent over an economy that was in the doldrums long before measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus decimated tourism, the main driver of prosperity.
“The issues that drive me to vote are the economy, the integrity of our government institutions, and a long-term plan for the country’s development,” said Jose Alpuche, 40, an attorney.
The polls closed at 6 p.m. local time Wednesday and results will roll in overnight, with an announcement of the winner expected on Thursday. Reliable polls are few and far between in the former British colony, making the outcome of the vote hard to predict.
(Reporting by Jose Sanchez; Writing by Laura Gottesdiener; Editing by Leslie Adler)