Judgment Reserved in Challenge to Opposition Leader Shyne Barrow’s Voter Registration
Chief Magistrate, Jayani Wegodapola has reserved her judgment in the challenge of Opposition Leader Shyne Barrow’s voter registration in the Mesopotamia division. The PUP launched the challenge on the grounds that Barrow registered his residence at number 80 King Street, but he does not live there. The matter concluded in court today with the Chief Magistrate set to deliver her ruling on Friday, November 25. Barrow’s attorney Richard “Dickie” Bradley, spoke outside the courtroom on why he feels the matter is a waste of time, given the extent of the requirement of residency in a division under the law.
Richard “Dickie” Bradley, Attorney: “Listen this is a PUP and UDP thing you know ? If Evan X Hyde was around the vicinity he would probably do let’s play mama and papa part two because we’re wasting the court’s time. The law of the land is written in section 5 of the Representation of the People’s Act which requires certain legal matters and the election officials shall enter their name as an elector in the division. The area of contention which is minimal in terms of what was brought to the court in our respectful view is the one that says the person must reside in the division for not less than two months for that person to be eligible to be added as a person in the division who can vote and you don’t have the live in a division to represent the division. But when goaded in the witness stand Allan Kelly said to the court what Honorable Shyne is doing has been done before, that none other than George Price went and registered and lived in his constituency, Mr.Price lived at Pickstock until his dying day. This case originally came up for objection when the rolls for transfer was being revised. The objectors did not show. The Chief Magistrate waited for them for hours they did not show. Now that the overall list is being revised they have turned back up in an attempt basically to psych out the Leader of the Opposition and to put him to some level of embarrassment and so because what they say has nothing to do with what the law requires.”
Bradley also said that for Belize’s democracy to work, the opposition must be viable and the court case against Barrow threatens that democracy. He said that while it is no secret he has been a supporter of the PUP, what’s at stake in Barrow’s case is bigger than party politics.
Richard “Dickie” Bradley, Attorney: “There is nothing in the law to say I can’t sleep somewhere else, I can’t go spend the night at my sweetheart just as an example I’m not saying that is what happened. I can’t go and spend some time with my wife somewhere else. I said to the Honorable Chief Magistrate after a person is added on the electoral roll they can get up and go to the United States of America there’s no law that says you have to hang around, you must be there. The issue is was he resident there ? Can he still be resident there if he wanted to sleep there overnight can he do so and the answer is a resounding yes, the building is fitted with a bathroom and a bedroom. You heard big issue being oh but the bathroom was leaking, listen was it leaking in April, May and June as Ms.Williams was saying that I am right there and saw this man come here at night and next morning and so on ? So it is a namus matter because of the consequences that can flow but it is also relatively straightforward. The law requires certain things, all those things have been met. How can a blue be helping a red ? I want to set the example we are one people don’t get caught up in the tribalism. If we destroy the opposition what will happen to the country ?”
The PUP was represented by attorney Leroy Banner, and had called three witnesses to make their case.