Belize Table of Contents
According to the constitution, executive authority is vested in the British monarch. The governor general and other subordinate officers, however, exercise executive authority on the monarch's behalf. The governor general must be a citizen of Belize and he or she serves at the pleasure of the queen, not subject to a fixed term of office. The governor general is appointed on the recommendation of the prime minister. The constitution sharply limits the executive authority of the governor general by stating that the governor general "shall act in accordance with the advice of the Cabinet or a Minister acting under the general authority of the Cabinet" except in cases in which the constitution or law states otherwise. On some matters, the governor general must consult with other government officials or authorities, but is not bound to act in accordance with their advice.
When appointing a prime minister, the governor general is to appoint "a member of the House of Representatives who is the leader of the political party which commands the support of the majority of the members of that House." If no party has a majority, the governor general is directed to appoint that member "who appears to him likely to command the support of the majority of the members," someone able to assemble a viable coalition government. The constitution empowers the governor general to remove the prime minister from office if a resolution of no confidence is passed by the House of Representatives and the prime minister fails within seven days to resign or advise the governor general to dissolve the National Assembly. If, for example, a party loses its majority in the House through the defection of its members to the opposition party during the life of a National Assembly, the governor general can inform the prime minister that he or she no longer commands a majority in the House, and the governor general is free to appoint a new prime minister.
The cabinet is composed of the prime minister and all other ministers of government. Except for the prime minister and the minister of finance, who must be members of the House of Representatives, cabinet members may come from either the House or the Senate. Neither the speaker of the House nor the president of the Senate, however, may be appointed to the cabinet. The governor general formally appoints the ministers and assigns them their portfolios within the cabinet, but must do so in accordance with the advice of the prime minister. The National Assembly has the power to create ministerial positions not specifically enumerated in the constitution or to delegate this power to the governor general acting on the advice of the prime minister.
The constitution guarantees the executive supremacy of the prime minister and the cabinet. It states that: The Cabinet shall be the principal executive instrument of policy with general direction and control of the Government and shall be collectively responsible to the National Assembly for any advice given to the Governor General by or under the general authority of the Cabinet and for all things done by or under the authority of any Minister in the execution of his office.
The governor general appoints as leader of the opposition a member of the House who commands the majority support of the opposition members, except in cases where there are no members of the House of Representatives who do not support the government. The leader of the opposition has the right to be consulted by the prime minister or to give binding advice to the governor general in the matter of some appointive government offices.
The Belize Advisory Council is an executive organ that serves as an independent body assisting the governor general. Its primary function is to give binding advice regarding the granting of pardons, commutations, stays of execution, and the removal of justices of appeal who are considered unable to carry out their duties or who have misbehaved in office. The council must have at least seven members including a chairman. The governor general appoints council members in accordance with the advice of the prime minister, who must consult with the leader of the opposition for all appointments and secure his or her concurrence in at least two of the appointments. The chairman must hold, have held, or be qualified to hold the office of judge of a superior court of record. In addition, at least two members must hold, or have held, high office within the government, and at least one must be a member of a recognized profession in Belize.
Data as of January 1992
Belize Table of Contents