Voter registration on Barbuda has been stalled for several months now, ever since Internet service was disconnected by the private provider.
Sources tell REAL News that the telecoms company is owed so much money by Central Government that it refused to allow its bill to run any higher and therefore pulled the plug.
As a result, the registration unit is unable to upload any new information into the national system, and so no new voters have been registered.
This, according to attorney Leon Chaku Symister, amounts to discrimination against residents in the Barbuda constituency, since the law calls for access to “continuous registration.”
Parliamentary Representative Trevor Walker is very unhappy about the situation. He sees this dereliction on the Government’s part as “an act to neglect and sabotage” Barbuda, given how long it has been allowed to continue.
It was not so long ago that the Government secured a property in Codrington to house the registration unit. Before that – and since Hurricane Irma devastated the island in 2017 –Barbudans had been forced to travel to Antigua simply to be registered.
The Electoral Commission had explained, then, that suitable premises could not be found on the sister-island. However, insiders told REAL News that locals were reluctant to rent to Central Government because of its poor track record on payment.
This latest situation – at a time when general elections are rumoured to be imminent – appears to be another roadblock deliberately put in the way of voters, most of whom rejected the Antigua Labour Party in national and Council elections, Symister notes.
But Walker says that residents are not deceived. “We are confident that the people of Barbuda are fully awake, and will again reject the acts of this government at the polls – whenever the general elections are called,” he declares.