By Michelle Sutherland
Henry Charles Usher, Minister with responsibility for Public Service, Constitutional and Political reform, has told The Reporter Newspaper that reports of eliminating the Port Loyola Constituency as part of the redistricting exercise are untrue.
On Wednesday, Usher told our newsroom, “The task force has yet to make its recommendations so whatever is being discussed is only speculation.”
He also indicated that a press originating from his colleague Gilroy Usher’s desk purporting to have inside information on the process was nothing but his personal response to speculations that were also being spewed on social media by a popular United Democratic Party-affiliated news entity.
On Tuesday, Hon. Gilroy Usher, the Area Representative for Port Loyola, issued a press release demanding fairness in the redistricting exercise, particularly regarding the elimination of constituencies in the Belize District. The release indicated that if two of the 13 divisions in the specified district must be eliminated due to insufficient voters in the area, then Port Loyola does not meet those requirements.
In fact, Usher argued that his constituency, which has approximately 4, 640 voters is slightly above the 4,600 threshold, making it the second-largest division in Belize City and the fifth-largest of the thirteen divisions in the Belize District.
Usher then went on to indicate that in all fairness the elimination should commence with the smallest divisions such as Fort George, Mesopotamia, Queen Square, Albert, Collet, Freetown, Pickstock, and Caribbean Shores, all of which have below the 4,600 thresholds and each with a range of 4,417 to as little as 2, 243 voters.
Usher’s press release originated on the heels of reports that the task force was contemplating eliminating Queen Square and Port Loyola. With only two more weeks to go until the deadline for submission of its final report, the redistricting task force is pushing full steam ahead to wrap up their recommendations and findings at which point they will be made public.
The Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Moses “Shyne” Barrow, had likewise criticized the prospect of eliminating certain constituencies recognized as United Democratic Party (UDP) “safe seats.”