Governor-General of Belize

The governor-general of Belize is the vice-regal representative of the Belizean monarch, currently King Charles III, in Belize. The governor-general is appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the prime minister of Belize. The functions of the governor-general include appointing ministers, judges, and ambassadors; giving royal assent to legislation passed by the National Assembly; and issuing writs for election.

Governor-General of Belize
Flag of the Governor-General
Incumbent
Dame Froyla Tzalam
since 27 May 2021
StyleHer Excellency
ResidenceGovernment House, Belize (former)
Belize House, Belmopan (since 1984)
AppointerMonarch of Belize
(on advice from the prime minister of Belize)
Term length7 years
Constituting instrumentConstitution of Belize
Formation21 September 1981
First holderDame Elmira Minita Gordon
SalaryBZ$75,000
WebsiteOfficial website

In general, the governor-general observes the conventions of the Westminster system and responsible government, maintaining a political neutrality, and has to act only on the advice of the prime minister. The governor-general also has a ceremonial role: hosting events at the official residenceBelize House in the capital, Belmopanand bestowing honours to individuals and groups who are contributing to their communities. When travelling abroad, the governor-general is seen as the representative of Belize and its monarch.

Governors-general are appointed for a seven-year term of office. Since 27 May 2021, the governor-general has been Dame Froyla Tzalam.

The office of the governor-general was created on 21 September 1981, when Belize gained independence from the United Kingdom as a sovereign state and an independent constitutional monarchy. Since then, three individuals have served as governor-general.

Appointment

The governor-general is formally appointed by the monarch of Belize. When a new governor-general is to be appointed, the current prime minister recommends a name to the monarch, who by convention accepts that recommendation. At the installation ceremony, the new governor-general takes an Oath of Allegiance and Office.[1] These oaths are administered by the Chief Justice of Belize.

Functions

External video
Governor-General Sir Colville Young (left) attending a diplomatic function at US Embassy Belize, 2011
Role of the Governor General in Belize's Government Source: Channel 5 Belize

The governor-general's powers and roles are derive from the Constitution of Belize's Part IV, sections 30 to 35 and set out certain provisions relating to the governor-general.[1]

I intend to carry out the constitutional role of this office with the required diligence. It is also my hope that time will permit me to carry out more than my constitutional duties. This is an institution with its own culture, however, like all institutions, it is inhabited by people.

Governor-General Dame Froyla Tzalam, 2021[2]

Constitutional role

The governor-general is responsible for dissolving parliament and issues writs for new elections. After an election, the governor-general formally requests the leader of the political party which gains the support of a majority in parliament to form a government. The governor-general commissions the prime minister and appoints other ministers after the election.[3]

The prime minister keeps the governor-general fully informed concerning the general conduct of the government of Belize and furnishes the governor-general with such information as the governor-general may request with respect to any particular matter relating to the government of Belize.[1]

The governor-general, on the Sovereign's behalf, gives royal assent to laws passed by the National Assembly of Belize.[4]

The governor-general acts on the advice of government ministers, to issue regulations, proclamations under existing laws, to appoint state judges,[5] ambassadors and high commissioners to overseas countries, and other senior government officials.

The governor-general is also responsible for issuing Royal Commissions of Inquiry, and other matters, as required by particular legislation; and authorises many other executive decisions by ministers such as approving treaties with foreign governments.

The governor-general may, in certain circumstances, exercise without – or contrary to – ministerial advice. These are known as the reserve powers, and include:

  • appointing a prime minister if an election has resulted in a 'hung parliament'.
  • dismissing the prime minister after the prime minister lost the confidence of the parliament.
  • dismissing any minister acting unlawfully.
  • refusing to dissolve the House of Representatives despite a request from the prime minister.

Ceremonial role

Governor-General Froyla Tzalam with Leyla Moses-Ones, US Chargé d'Affaires, 2021
Governor-General Sir Colville Young with President Tsai of Taiwan, 2018

The governor-general's ceremonial duties include opening new sessions of parliament by delivering the Speech from the Throne, welcoming visiting heads of state, and receiving the credentials of foreign diplomats.

The governor-general attends military parades and special occasions, and presents Colours and other insignia to units of the Belize Defence Force and the Police Force.

The governor-general also presents honours at investitures to persons for notable service to the community, or for acts of bravery.

Privileges

Salary

The Governor-General (Conditions of Service) Act 1989 defines the salary, pension and other entitlements of the governor-general.[6] The act was amended in 2021 to provide for a fixed seven-year term of office and raise the governor-general's salary to BZ$75,000.[7][8] This was the first increase in salary since 1989.[9]

Symbols

Flag of the Governor-General of Belize

The governor-general uses a personal flag, which features a lion passant atop a St. Edward's royal crown with "Belize" written across a scroll underneath, all on a blue background. It is flown on buildings and other locations in Belize to mark the governor-general's presence.

A viceregal salute —composed of the first verse of "God Save the King" followed by the chorus of the Belizean National Anthem, "Land of the Free"— is used to greet the governor-general upon arrival at, and mark his or her departure from most official events.[10]

Residences

The Governor General resided at Government House, Belize until 1984, even after the capital had moved to Belmopan in 1970. In 1984, the Governor General moved to Belize House in Belmopan, formerly the residence of the British High Commission on North Ring Road and Melhado Parade.[11]

List of governors-general

Following is a list of people who have served as Governor-General of Belize since independence in 1981.

  Denotes Acting Governors-General
No. Portrait Name
(Birth–Death)
Term of office Monarch
(Reign)
Took office Left office Time in office
1 Dame Elmira Minita Gordon
(1930–2021)
21 September
1981
17 November
1993
12 years, 57 days
Elizabeth II
(1981–2022)
2 Sir Colville Young
(b. 1932)
17 November
1993
30 April
2021
27 years, 164 days
Stuart Leslie
(b. ?)
Acting Governor-General
30 April
2021
27 May
2021
27 days
3 Dame Froyla Tzalam
(b. ?)
27 May
2021
Incumbent 1 year, 247 days

Charles III
(2022–present)

See also

References

  1. Part IV: The Governor-General
  2. "Froyla T'zalam Installed as Governor General". Channel5Belize. 27 May 2021.
  3. Part V: The Executive
  4. Part VI: The Legislature
  5. Part VII: The Judiciary
  6. "GOVERNOR-GENERAL (CONDITIONS OF SERVICE) ACT" (PDF). Belize Legal Information Network. 31 December 2000. Retrieved 23 December 2021.
  7. "Governor-General to get higher salary, health insurance, pension: 'It's just the decent thing to do'". Breaking Belize News. 5 July 2021. Retrieved 23 December 2021.
  8. "GOVERNOR-GENERAL (CONDITIONS OF SERVICE) (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2021" (PDF). National Assembly of Belize. Retrieved 23 December 2021.
  9. "PSU asks GG to defer salary increase". Amandala. 24 July 2021. Retrieved 23 December 2021.
  10. "New Governor-General takes office: 'I will build bridges'". Breaking Belize News. 27 May 2021.
  11. issues, North Ring Road/Melhado ParadePO Box 91 Belmopan Belize General enquiries +501 822 2146/2147/2717/2981 Use our contact form for consular enquiries:www gov uk/contact-consulate-belmopanFor enquiries that are not about consular; Noon, 8:00am to; Access, 1:00pm to 4:00pmFri: 0800-1400Consular section opening hours:Monday to Thursday: 09:00 to 11:00Fridays: Closed; Times, Opening. "British High Commission Belmopan - GOV.UK". www.gov.uk.
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