After completing a one year term as was agreed to with the Prime Minister, Senator Vanessa Retreage is returning to private practice as an attorney. Her one year stint as Attorney General and a few months as Minister of Natural Resources has now created the need for Prime Minister Dean Barrow to name the fourth Minister of Natural Resources in just 13 months. Today the changes were announced via a press conference this afternoon in Belmopan.
“When I invited the Attorney General to joint the Cabinet after the last election she was quite clear to me that she would do so but only for a year, she indicated that both in terms of her commitments and her law partner as well as to her family she would not be able to serve for longer than a year. So as she put it that year has now gone by in fact she gave us a little bit of ‘broata’ and as a consequence she will demit office at the end of this month which of course is also the end of the calendar year. As a consequence of that there are appointments that will have to be made to fill the void and a huge void it will be left by the departure of the attorney general and we thought that rather than wait until she actually goes to announce the replacement we should do so now so that there will not be any need for people to speculate. So attorney general leaves at the end of the month as from the first of January 2017 the honorable Michael Peyrefitte will become the new attorney general of Belize. Now the AG also demits office and is giving up her position as a senator so the honorable Peyrefitte will replace her as well in the senate of the national assembly of Belize. With respect to the lands ministry that will be placed under your humble servant that will not be joined with the ministry of finance so I will be the new minister of lands or Minister of Natural Resources. Dr.Barnett who is already the Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance will of course be the Minister of state in the expanded ministry and quite frankly it is Dr.Barnett who will have the day to day charge of the lands ministry. So as not to have me end up with a top heavy portfolio and encourage the unkind remarks that a number of you that I can think of would make as a result the police ministry will no go across to the Minister of Foreign Affairs but again with the same arrangement under which the Honorable Elodio Aragon as the minister of state will have the de facto leadership of that ministry and will be in charge of the ministry on a day to day basis.”
The changes take effect on January 1, 2017 with the exception of the post of Speaker of the House. That is seat that will have to be voted on in the next Sitting of the House of Representatives. President of the Belize Cancer Society Laura Longsworth is the proposed candidate from the Government of Belize.
“One thing that those of you who try to ferret out information were not able to have any sense of is who is to replace Michael Peyrefitte as the Speaker of the House. Now I pause here to say that that is a tall order Michael Peyrefitte was without a doubt the best speaker of the modern era in this country. I’m pleased to tell you that at cabinet we considered an approved a decision to propose to the house because the speaker has to be elected by the house and it’s not just a matter for the government’s side. We will propose to the house at the first meeting in the new year the election of Mrs.Laura Longsworth to be speaker of the house. Now those of you who are familiar with Mrs. Longsworth will know that she is a Belizean woman of great accomplishment and distinction I believe she has a masters degree in nursing administration she is a retired nurse, head of the Belize Cancer society and chair of the AIDS commission. I know she not too long ago was the recipient of an honor I am not sure if it was the Queen and I’m not sure what the rank was but she certainly her services to this country were already recognized and in fact rewarded by the bestowal of this Queen’s honor. We have no doubt that Mrs. Longworth who is not a partisan will be absolutely like that old referee, fair but firm. We think that she brings a great deal to the position , we think that she currently commands a huge amount of respect on the part of those who know her and that is certainly something that will stand her in good stead once the house were to vote to elect her as speaker.”
Contrary to rumors circulating regarding threats being made to Retreage, she noted that aside from one email which turned out to be spam, there were no threats made to her and this departure is nothing more than her having personal obligations to fulfill.