Judge hints at step to expedite elections petition

Guyana Chronicle
June 24, 1999

JUSTICE Claudette Singh yesterday undertook to have the lawyers involved in the elections petition get together today and formulate a plan for its expeditious hearing.

She said the formula could mean working longer hours in an effort to speed up the conclusion.

The judge hinted at such a step after counsel for the petitioner, Esther Perreira, wondered whether there was a plan afoot to prolong and have the case go on forever.

Senior Counsel Peter Britton asked the question after other Senior Counsel Doodnauth Singh, for the number one respondent, Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Stanley Singh, applied for another adjournment, to today, through his junior.

Justice Singh noted that on Tuesday afternoon, the lawyer Singh assured the Court his witness, Joseph Gilgeous, Returning Officer for Region Five (Mahaica/Berbice) during the 1997 general elections, would continue his evidence-in- chief on the resumption yesterday.

Following agreement that the Returning Officer's report was illegible, Senior Counsel Singh intimated it would be typed in a legible form and be ready yesterday morning.

The judge recalled, too, that Singh had even promised to make copies available to the other side.

But, at the continuation yesterday, neither Singh nor Gilgeous was present.

The application to adjourn was made by Singh's associate attorney-at-law Mr Darshan Ramdhani, who said his senior had to leave hurriedly to participate in a criminal matter in Berbice.

Justice Singh declared that her Court was being treated with discourtesy by Ramdhani who was on his feet in a nearby courtroom and only appeared before her to make the request after she sent for him.

It was at that stage Britton sprang to his feet to protest what he called "frequent applications for adjournments" from time to time.

"Very early in this trial, there was the saying that this trial would go on forever. To me, there is a move afoot to keep us wasting time," Britton remarked.

Gilgeous is the third Returning Officer to be called by the respondent CEO, succeeding Nelson Bakker of Region 10 (Upper Demerara/Berbice) and Gurdat Persaud of Region Three (West Demerara/Essequibo Islands) on the witness stand.

Perreira, of Lot 75 South Sophia, Greater Georgetown, is challenging the validity of the 1997 polls, on the ground that the process was so flawed, the outcome cannot be said to accurately reflect the will of the electorate.

In her quest, she has cited President Janet Jagan of the governing People's Progressive Party/Civic alliance and People's National Congress (PNC) Leader Desmond Hoyte among the List Representatives of contesting political parties.

However, all of the latter, except Hamilton Green of a Good and Green Guyana (AGGG), have pledged to accept the ruling in this instance.

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Guyana: Land of Six Peoples