Voter ID cards data required from CARICOM Secretariat

Guyana Chronicle
April 30, 2000

GEORGETOWN, (CANA) - The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat is expected to provide within days all relevant statistical data on Guyana's 1997 general elections, as a result of a ruling here by a High Court Judge.

Justice Claudette Singh, presiding over an elections petition on behalf of the opposition People's National Congress (PNC), challenging the results of the poll, has requested the Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Stanley Singh, to obtain the documents from the secretariat.

This followed last Thursday's latest effort by Senior Counsel Doodnauth Singh for the CEO, to get the court to obtain all relevant clarification pertaining to findings that about 45,000 Guyanese may have voted without voter ID cards.

The data was lodged with the Library of the CARICOM Secretariat by the CARICOM Audit Commission (CAC), headed by retired Trinidad and Tobago judge, Ulric Cross, following the fulfillment of its mandate on May 30, 1998.

The focus in the court, after 19 months of testimony, has shifted to page 29 of the CAC report to which an important correction was made by the CAC and submitted by Justice Cross on behalf of the Commission.

The erratum, faxed within days of the official submission of the CAC's report, forwarded a correction to page 29, pointing out that "the figure for ID cards for Region Six is approximately 69,000 instead of the approximate figure of 42,000 mentioned in the report".

Voter ID cards from four of the 10 regions were examined.

The CAC report explains that "detailed information can be examined in the statistical Appendix related to the 1997 elections, which is available in the library of the CARICOM Secretariat".

In the summary of findings, the CAC report states that "in respect of voter identification cards, there was no evidence of fraud in their use..."

After failing to get the judge to admit into evidence the correction sent by the CAC Chairman, Justice Cross, counsel Singh, urged the court to undertake a count of all the voter identification cards. But this attempt was also unsuccessful.

He then applied to the court to retrieve a document in the possession of the Georgetown-based CARICOM Secretariat that offers evidence on the voter ID issue.

Justice Singh subsequently informed the Chief Elections Officer, present in the court, to uplift the relevant documents from the CARICOM Secretariat and to have them in his possession when he returns to court on Tuesday.

The CAC findings are binding on the signatory parties (governing People's Progressive Party/Civic and the opposition PNC) to the 'Herdmanston Accord' of January 17, 1998 that resulted from post-1997 elections disturbances in Georgetown.