Mass registration in Ladyville 2


News 5

Another round of mass naturalization is scheduled to take place this week in Belmopan to beat the February twentieth deadline for registration of new voters. There have been two recent swear-in ceremonies; the last was on Friday, when more than five hundred took the oath in Belmopan as full-fledged Belizeans.  The granting of citizenship so close to an election has raised a firestorm from the public; the government which condemned a similar exercise when it was in opposition, now finds nothing unusual or unlawful and according to the Prime Minister, the practice is as ancient as the hills. But charges persist that due diligence is not being followed because many of the immigrants are not going through the full battery of tests and paperwork that are required. Additionally, the process is so expeditious that in many cases citizenship is granted in a matter of days. Last week, we captured the line-up at a private house in Ladyville where an immigration officer was facilitating the registration. It became far more blatant over the weekend. Hand over fist the area representative, Michael Hutchinson, facilitated the processing of a large number of persons, including families and children.  Huge crowds turned up on Saturday and Sunday braving the rain at his office adjacent to the Esso Gas station. According to one report, among the crowds were persons who were bused in from various constituencies other than Belize Rural Central. The event continued late into Sunday night. Many of these persons have been promised citizenship within this week to be able to register for the upcoming elections.

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