Defeated St Joseph candidate Ian Alleyne has added fuel to the controversy surrounding his eligibility to vote in Monday's by-election, after he admitted to voting in two recent elections although he had not lived in the area for more than eight years.Alleyne made the disclosure yesterday while speaking to reporters outside the Port-of-Spain Magistrates Court after appearing on a charge of resisting arrest.
The issue of Alleyne's eligibility to vote in the constituency arose during voting on Monday, after his name and a corresponding address in Valsayn appeared on the electorial list at the Cipriani Labour College, although the address listed on his nomination papers with the Elections and Boundaries Commission was given as 21 Sevilla, Brechin Castle, Couva.
Alleyne's campaign organisers initially stated that Alleyne would visit the polling station to vote, but he failed to do so by the close of voting. When questioned yesterday, Alleyne confirmed he decided not to vote after discussing the issue with his legal advisers, but he admitted to casting his ballot there previously.
Alleyne said: "Many years ago we had an apartment in Valsayn and sometime between 1997 and 2002, I stayed in Valsayn. I was registered at the Cipriani Labour College, so I voted there previously."When asked if he voted within that constituency in the 2010 general election and in the local government elections last month, Alleyne responded yes to both questions.
When pressed over rumours that the UNC had rented an apartment in Valsayn for his use in the by-election, Alleyne immediately referred the issue to his attorney Larry Lalla.Lalla, who stood at Alleyne's side for the duration of the interview, quickly responded: "No one has said he has rented anything and until that is cleared up we are not in a position to say anything about it...A lot of issues surrounding that matter are still unclear."
Alleyne, who referred to himself as the "People's MP for St Joseph," promised to continue his work in the constituency before the 2015 general election."From today, I will be at that office and the residents of St Joseph can rest assured that they will have access to me," he said.In his speech to his supporters after his narrow defeat by PNM candidate Terrence Deyalsingh, on Monday night, Alleyne said he wished to contest the seat again in the next general election.
His comments came even as EBC chairman Dr Norbert Masson ordered a probe into the matter yesterday."If you were in the commission, what would you do?" Masson asked when the T&T Guardian asked him if the EBC was investigating the allegations made against Alleyne.Pressed on if the EBC was planning to do so, he said: "The matter has to be decided by the commission."
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley, addressing supporters after Deyalsingh's victory on Monday night, complained about Alleyne's two addresses.The controversy arose on Monday when Alleyne's campaign team initially told the media he would be voting in Valsayn at 10 am. The fact that he was listed to vote in St Joseph clashed with an earlier EBC release giving the names and addresses of all the candidates in the by-election, which listed Alleyne's address as 21 Sevilla, Brechin Castle, Couva.
A search of the EBC Web site at www.ebctt.com showed Ian Leslie Alleyne as a registered voter in St Joseph, with the address 49 Palm Road, Valsayn.Members of the media tracked down the Valsayn address on Monday and found it to be an apartment complex.
While there were several tenants, many of them foreigners, no one there knew Alleyne. At another address, which the media was directed to nearby, a woman who claimed to be the owner of an apartment said it had been rented from her for a month by the Government for use in the election campaign.After his office had postponed his projected voting time several times on Monday, Alleyne ended up not voting after consultation with his lawyers.
The T&T Guardian contacted chief elections officer Ramesh Nanan and asked him if he was aware Alleyne had two addresses and if he knew when Alleyne had moved to Palm Road.Nanan replied: "I don't have the facts. I will not be able to confirm or deny. I will have to gather the information."Asked when he would complete that process, Nanan said not just yet, because of other pressing issues at work.
– With reporting by Yvonne Baboolal