Singh says rigging might have been between 1964 and 1985

By George Barclay
Guyana Chronicle
June 1, 2000

SENIOR Counsel Doodnauth Singh was addressing the judge at the hearing of the Esther Perreira election petition yesterday when he referred to a comparative analysis of election results during the period 1964 to 1997 to show that any claim to rigging had to be related to the period 1964 to 1985.

Mr Singh, lawyer representing the Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Stanley Singh, was addressing Justice Claudette Singh for the fourth day since the closure of his case after the testimony of 266 witnesses.

He halted his address some days ago to provide for the making of a submission that sought to have the Court summon Grenada's Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell and CARICOM Secretary General Edwin Carrington to give supportive evidence in relation to a CANA report. The report had quoted them as saying that they had knowledge about the existence of the erratum document which was rejected from evidence.

But yesterday, after witness Joseph Farrier of the CARICOM Secretariat, who it was hoped would have produced the original document, failed to add anything new to the controversy, Mr Singh shelved his application and intimated to the judge that he would continue his address.

He was referring to the Guyana Elections Commission report on the 1997 General and Regional Elections by the Chief Elections Officer, Stanley Singh, when he criticised the opposition of talking about rigging and all sorts of irregularities with the hope of getting the Court to set aside the elections.

Mr Singh then said that any accusation about rigging between 1992 and 1997 could not be founded on a comparative analysis of the results.

But, according to him, the comparative analysis of election results during the period 1964 to 1997 would show that the same could not be said of the earlier period - 1964 to 1985.

Singh told the Court that the analysis shows that in 1964 the PNC got 96,657 as against 109,332 by the PPP, 1968 - the PNC secured 174,339 as against 113,991 by the PPP, 1973 - the PNC got 243,803 as against 92,374 by the PPP, 1980 - the PNC received 312,988 as against 78,414 by the PPP, 1985 - the PNC 228,718 as against 45,926 by PPP, 1992 - the PNC 128,286 as against 162,058 by the PPP, 1997 - PNC 161,901 with the PPP receiving 220,667.

Mr Singh went on to address the Court on the electoral system in Guyana, appointment of members of the Commission, powers and functions of the commission, observer missions, National observers, International observers, training and recruitment, the preparation of the final voters' list, house-to-house registration, printing of ballot papers, voter identification cards production and distribution, Statements of Poll and declaration of the results.

Mr Singh asked the judge to take into account the fact that all those international observers observed the elections together with the local observers.

Commenting on policy for appointment, Mr Singh said that the Guyana Elections Commission in keeping with its policy of transparency and fair play caused to be advertised all vacancies for District and Field Staff.

Applicants were invited to be trained by a cadre of competent trainers. There was also a marking team established and those persons were responsible for setting the question papers and marking the scripts.

He said that based on the results of the test, and with the assistance of the trainers, most of whom were senior managers, proposals for Registrars, Deputy Registrars and Clerks for the ten districts were put up through the Human Resource Department for the two main Select Committees of the Guyana Elections Commission.

Mr Singh asked the judge to conclude on the evidence which has been led that there has been no evidence to negate that the production of voter identification cards had been successfully completed.

He also asked the Court to find that the cards were successfully distributed and that not only was civil society involved in the distribution process, but that the political parties were involved also.

On the resumption yesterday, Mr Farrier, Secretary of the CARICOM Audit team, admitted reading a CANA report about the erratum and the knowledge two CARICOM officials had about it.

When asked by Mr Ralph Ramkarran, S.C., whether he had been in touch with Prime Minister Mitchell as a result of the report, witness explained that as a result of a letter he received from the law firm of Cameron & Shepherd, he sought legal advice and then sent a copy to Dr Mitchell.

Witness said that he had not received a response to that letter, and had not tried to communicate further.

But Mr Ramkarran was about to tender a copy of the letter sent by Cameron & Shepherd to Mr Farrier, when it's admissibility was objected to by Senior Counsel Mr Rex McKay.

Under cross-examination by Mr Peter Britton, Senior Counsel, for the Petitioner, witness denied that during the Audit team exercise he used to be in frequent contact with Dr. Ramsammy of the PPP delegation.

He said that he recalled speaking to him on one occasion about cricket.

Mr Singh will continue his address when the hearing continues today.

Follow the goings-on in Guyana
in Guyana Today