Belize's opposition party wins landslide in congressional elections

A new prime minister was sworn into office Friday after his opposition United Democratic Party won a landslide victory in general elections.
United Democratic leader Dean Barrow's victory ended Belize Prime Minister Said Musa's 10 years in office. Barrow's party won 25 of the 31 seats in the House of Representatives in Thursday's election.
"This demonstrates that we have matured, and that Belize has reached a level where, in the words of Martin Luther King, a man can be judged on the content of his character rather than the color of his skin," said Barrow, Belize's first black prime minister.
Musa came to power in 1998 with a landslide victory, and his party held on to the National Assembly in 2003 elections, winning a 22-7 majority.
But Musa has struggled since. Higher taxes designed to pay US$3 billion (euro2 billion) in foreign debt sparked riots in 2005, and the prime minister's administration was rocked by scandals over alleged sweetheart deals and financial mismanagement, including opposition allegations that a US$10 million gift from Venezuela's Hugo Chavez was disbursed in handouts to ruling party supporters.
Musa defended the payments as community aid.
The United Democratic Party has promised to crack down on crime and government corruption.
Speaking to reporters after the swearing-in ceremony, Barrow allayed fears he would fire tenured public servants appointed under his predecessor and vowed to investigate missing public funds and other government corruption.
Musa's party had promised to buy 30,000 laptops for schoolchildren and to reform the constitution to create an elected Senate. Belize currently is governed by an appointed Senate and the elected lower House of Representatives.