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PUP objectors no-show in court as “Shyne” Barrow voter residency case dismissed

Posted: Wednesday, August 30, 2023. 9:42 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The sensational claim that the Leader of the Opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) does not live at 80 King Street in the Mesopotamia Division which he represents was dismissed by Chief Magistrate Jayani Wegodapola when the accusers failed to show up in court.

The case was brought as part of the revision of the voters’ list done by all Magistrates in each district and the Chief Magistrate in the Belize District each month and comes after the annual transfer period which ends on August 31.

Representing Moses “Shyne” Barrow was none other than Richard “Dickie” Bradley, who said there were witnesses present and available to swear to the fact that Barrow does live at the address, while the Chief Magistrate questioned employees of the Elections and Boundaries Department who were also present.

But the objectors, identified as Dorla Vaughan and Gary Ayuso, who claimed that he was in fact a resident of Saint Charles Street in the Caribbean Shores division, were not present so there was no case, prompting the Chief Magistrate to dismiss it.

Outside the court, Bradley spoke at length about the importance of the procedure and why ultimately it failed: “A citizen of Belize is standing here, came to the court, prepared to say to the court, one, I know the Leader of the Opposition. I know the address, I know the house, I know the inside of the house, and I know he’s an occupant at that house because I live deh. The Chief Magistrate, as revising officer, has struck it out upon being satisfied that the registering officer followed all the legal requirements.”

Bradley also noted that for perhaps the first time in living memory, a politician has chosen to reside within the constituency he represents, not required by law but certain to earn him brownie points with voters: “He’s probably also making history because then, I’m not sure about Honorable Esquivel, but Shyne Barrow is basically now living in the constituency that he represents. That is not a usual matter. In fact, it’s not usual for anybody from the north side fi want goh live da south side. So he can boast that, ‘I live with the people I represent.’”

Bradley, himself a former political candidate, conceded that it is difficult to prove someone does not live at an address where there is evidence from the owner or landlord that they do, and the court deals only in facts.

Barrow this evening commented that the case is “nothing but political mischief” from “failed PUP candidates” (Ayuso is a former Belize City councilor candidate, while Vaughan is a former City Councilor and lost a general election to Barrow’s predecessor Michael Finnegan in 2015). He says he has leased the residence for some time and put the utilities in his name.

As for claims that the address is a “safe house” for registered voters, Barrow says a total of 11 persons were registered at the address since 2018, specifically citing, “I know one family that lived there before I took over the property, before I leased the property where it’s like seven of them. It’s a three-bedroom and so that’s unfortunately, in society not everybody has wealth, not everybody is doing good enough and family needs to find space for family.”

 

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