McKay, Singh in verbal clash over Cross Report

Guyana Chronicle
July 27, 1999

TWO Senior Counsel clashed verbally yesterday when one of them was cross-examining a witness at the elections petition hearing before Justice Claudette Singh.

It happened after the Returning Officer for Region One (Barina/Waini) during the 1997 general elections, Lloyd Baharally admitted that, on Elections Day, he discovered a person who had two Voter Identification (ID) cards.

The official said he could not remember the name of the individual and there was nothing in his tendered report to the Elections Commission that would aid his memory.

Senior Counsel Rex McKay, representing respondent People's National Congress (PNC) Leader Desmond Hoyte, asked Baharally whether he knew that Chairman of the (CARICOM) Audit Commission, Mr (Ulric) Cross had reported 45,000 people voted without the IDs.

When the witness said he had no knowledge of that pronouncement, other Senior Counsel Doodnauth Singh, for respondent Chief Elections Officer CEO) Stanley Singh, enquired of McKay:"What is the relevance of this?"

Insisting it was relevant, McKay adverted Baharally's attention to Page 29 of the Cross Report.

The lawyer Singh wanted to know if McKay was unaware of an erratum (correction) to that certificate.

"Erratum from whom?" was McKay's response and Singh rejoined:"Cross said that it was wrong."

"Don't worry with Cross, you are saying that Cross was wrong!" McKay declared, concluding his questioning of the witness.

Earlier, Baharally said 12,347 persons were photographed for registration and there were 12,377 eligible electors in the Region but only 11,172 received their tags, resulting in 1,205 being disenfranchised.

He agreed the number that did not vote translated into about 10 per cent of the Region One voters but said he could not recall the date or month he received the IDs for distribution.

Neither did he have any record of the receipt in his compilation.

His documentation to the Elections Commission said each contestant political party was allowed scrutineers, the PNC had 37 and the People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) 35.

Baharally said 10,226 voted at a total of 66 polling stations in the district, 50 in Government-owned and 16 in private buildings.

Five of the latter were made available free of charge but $5,000 rental was paid for every one of the others.

The PNC polled 2,535 votes and the PPP/C secured 5,461 in results certified by him, Baharally said.

Still answering McKay, the witness said he collected some Statements of Poll (SOPs) from Presiding Officers and others from the Deputy Returning Officer and used the information on them for his composition.

Baharally, who will face more grilling by another respondent's counsel at the continuation today, denied that someone else wrote what he submitted to the Commission.

In this matter, Esther Perreira, a PNC supporter of Lot 75 South Sophia, Greater Georgetown, is challenging the validity of the 1997 general elections, on the ground that the process was so flawed it cannot be said to accurately reflect the will of the electorate.

She has named Hoyte and President Janet Jagan of the governing PPP/Civic alliance as respondents, among the List Representatives of the political parties which contested.

But, all the politicians cited, except Hamilton Green of A Good and Green Guyana (AGGG), have pledged to abide the ruling in the case.

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