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People’s United Party returns to court objecting to residency of Opposition Leader in Mesopotamia

Posted: Monday, November 20, 2023. 9:42 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: On Friday, Leader of the Opposition Moses “Shyne” Barrow – or rather his residence at King Street, Belize City – got a visit from Chief Magistrate Jayani Wegodapola, acting in her capacity as revising officer for the voters’ list for Belize City’s ten constituencies, including Mesopotamia, which Barrow represents.

But the ruling People’s United Party (PUP) believes it can show that Barrow is not living full time at the residence, which doubles as the division’s resource center.

Attorney Richard “Dickie” Bradley explained how the case has been going so far: “There was an attempt some weeks ago which they abandoned, but now that the list has come for the annual revision which must be completed in a few days’ time for the year 2023, they have raised objections again. Two witnesses have spoken at length claiming that the reason they are objecting is that they do not know that the honorable Barrow resided or resides at that address. …[Another witness] says he was directed by his employers to do surveillance of the honorable Barrow’s previous address and his current address at King Street. That witness is of very little help to the court or the revising officer because he can’t speak to the period which was checked, certified, and verified by the elections officials who [have] no axe to grind.”

In court, Bradley questioned Gary Ayuso and Dorla Vaughan (both Mesopotamia residents and former Belize City councilors) and Henry Mortis, a photographer, and the current Mace Bearer to the National Assembly, the former two leading the objection against Barrow. But Ayuso conceded that an ordinary residence can be used as an office and vice versa.

Mortis testified he was asked by party officials to take pictures of Barrow’s previous residence and of the alleged residence at King Street. But that was a few weeks ago, not in July when Barrow was said to have officially registered and would have been required to show proof of residence to be enrolled as a voter in the constituency (though it is not required to be the constituency’s representative).

The Chief Magistrate decided to see for herself and so announced a visit to what is legally known as the locus or scene of interest.

At the scene, the building was opened up and inspected. It measures 40 by 24 feet inside a fenced yard with grass on either side and is divided into two sections, an office area with desk, chairs, and party material and a living quarters with bed, refrigerator, and small reading table. The visit was witnessed by supporters of both major parties including City Council candidate Brian “Yellowman” Audinett and Allan Kelly for the reds and Senator Collet Montejo for the blues.

The case is adjourned to Tuesday, November 21, when Bradley will call three defense witnesses before closing the case.

 

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