Region Four Returning Officer begins testimony

Guyana Chronicle
September 7, 1999

HEARING of the elections petition by Justice Claudette Singh resumed yesterday, after a six-week break, with another Returning Officer taking the witness stand.

Henry Europe, who officiated in Region Four (Demerara/Mahaica), was led through his evidence-in-chief by Senior Counsel Doodnauth Singh, who is representing respondent Chief Elections Officer Stanley Singh.

But cross-examination of Europe, although began, was suspended to allow him to ascertain the number of votes on Statements of Poll (SOPs) he said were not signed by Presiding Officers as required by law.

Justice Singh tasked Europe with getting the information in time for today's continuation, at the request of other Senior Counsel Peter Britton, who is appearing for the petitioner, Esther Perreira.

Perreira, a People's National Congress (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, the outcome cannot be said to accurately represent the will of the electorate.

She has also named, as respondents, the List Representatives of the political parties that contested, including former Presidents Janet Jagan, of the People's Progressive Party/Civic and PNC Leader Desmond Hoyte.

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

Among other things, Europe said, in his tendered report on the balloting, that 186,551 voter identification cards were distributed in Region Four and a total of 175,604 votes were cast.

He disclosed that 3,796 ballots were rejected.

Answering Britton, the witness said 109 SOPs were not authenticated and he was asked to examine the documents and tally the number of votes involved by this morning.

Earlier, led by the lawyer Singh, Europe testified that his Region extends from Moblissa, along the Soesdyke/Linden Highway, to Mahaica, East Coast Demerara.

Europe wrote in his compendium that, in spite of all the controversy surroundiung the polls, it was his sincere opinion that the Elections Commission should be commended for:

* the massive house to house registration which was extended until November 7, 1996;

* launching a photographic exercise, in particular to do mobile photography, that afforded all interested persons the opportunity to be completely registered;

* a successful claims and objections period which also allowed people the chance of ensuring that their particulars were correctly listed on the final voters list and

* creating history in Guyana by producing and distributing

Voter Identification Cards up until two days before Elections Day.

Europe said it was his opinion, too, that all activities undertaken up to and after the voting could be deemed successful.

According to him, it should not go unnoticed that all the principles and guidelines disseminated by the Elections Commission were adhered to and, at no time, before, during or after the polling, did the Returning Officers change any given instructions.

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