Bakker cross-examined on role before, after balloting

Guyana Chronicle
June 15, 1999

REGION 10 (Upper Demerara/Berbice) Returning Officer for the 1997 general elections, Nelson Bakker yesterday continued his testimony in the petition being heard by Justice Claudette Singh.

Under cross-examination by Senior Counsel Rex McKay, representing People's National Congress (PNC) Leader Desmond Hoyte, the witness answered more questions about his role during and after the balloting.

He again denied a suggestion that he was not the author of a report signed by him and now before the Court.

Bakker could not recall the date when the (CARICOM) Audit Commission came to Guyana but he knew the team had been here up to May 1998.

He said he completed his compilation on Region 10 between the second and third weeks of January 1998.

Bakker acknowledged appearing before the auditors although he was not working with them and had nothing to do with that exercise.

He said the Commission wanted to know from him whether he knew about any incident on Polling Day and he told them no.

Asked why he did not tell the Commission of an incident he had previously mentioned in relation to 13 missing Statements of Poll (SOPs) from his Region, he said the documents had inadvertently been placed in a ballot box, though he did know that from his own knowledge.

McKay suggested to the witness that he did not prepare any compendium and presented none to the Commission because there was not any.

However, Bakker also denied that he compiled it after the audit results were made known.

According to him, prior to the voting, he received 23,159 Voter Identification Cards from the Elections Commission for distribution in Region 10.

He was aware that people who did not have the IDs would not be able to vote and he returned the cards which were not distributed. Some to whom they belonged had died and others migrated.

Bakker said there were instances, as well, of people who got the tags but did not use them.

Shown what the ((Audit) Commission reported, witness admitted it was recorded that, in Regions Two (Pomeroon/Supenaam), Four (Demerara/Mahaica), Six (East Berbice/Corentyne) and Seven (Cuyuni/Mazaruni), a significant number of electors voted without identification and the total was more than 45,000.

Bakker, the first witness to be called by respondent Chief Elections Officer Stanley Singh, is testifying in the challenge launched by Esther Perreira.

Perreira, a PNC supporter of Lot 75 South Sophia, Greater Georgetown, wants Justice Singh to invalidate the outcome of the 1997 polling.

The petitioner is alleging that the process was so flawed it cannot be said to accurately reflect the will of the electorate.

In her quest, she has cited President Janet Jagan - of the People's Progressive Party/Civic governing alliance - among the List Representatives of contesting political parties.

But, all of the latter, except Hamilton Green of A Good and Green Guyana (AGGG), have pledged to abide the ruling in this case which continues today.

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Guyana: Land of Six Peoples