Singh, Husain disagree over 'Olympics runners' remark

Guyana Chronicle
September 14, 1999

TWO of the lawyers appearing in the elections petition before Justice Claudette Singh disagreed yesterday over an alleged `Olympics runners' remark on the night the 1997 balloting ended.

It happened when one of them, Mr Saphier Husain, List Representative of National Independent Party (NIP) and a respondent in the case, enquired, of Region Four (Demerara/Mahaica) Returning Officer Henry Europe, whether it would be accurate to say all the results in that district were not declared also because some of the couriers transporting them had reportedly gone to the Olympics.

Senior Counsel Doodnauth Singh, representing Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Stanley Singh, objected to the question.

"That is totally inaccurate. How can he (the witness) answer a false suggestion?"

Husain rejoined to say he was basing his enquiry on a report which quoted the Elections Commission Chairman (the lawyer Singh) as saying on radio that some of the runners (meaning people who had been transporting the Statements of Poll) had not turned up and might have gone to the Olympics.

Under re-examination by Senior Counsel Singh, after Husain had cross-examined him, Europe said he learnt on Elections Day that the Commission had put a mechanism in place for the transmission of results.

However, he did not know Father Tim Curtis had effected a system for the same purpose.

Europe said the Commission's Command Centre was in a building separate from the National Registration Centre, though in the very compound.

During the night of December 15, 1997, he did go to the Command Centre where he saw a number of persons, including members of the Commission, tabulating results.

According to him, at the time when the Presidency was declared won, a large number of declarations had been made in respect of Region Four.

Europe said the 12,000 Voter Identification Cards that were not distributed related to persons who had moved out of the district, migrated or died.

Witness said he visited 10 polling places on Elections Day and the People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) was the only political party that complained to him.

He received no complaint from the People's National Congress (PNC) nor any other political party.

Europe said, while it is true that 12 polling stations were changed before the balloting, each was advertised and published and the details had been given to the various political parties.

He said ballots cast in Region Four were placed in sealed boxes after the count and taken to the Elections Commission Georgetown premises.

Europe said he used 736 Statements of Poll (SOPs) in his compilation of the totals and, up to yesterday, no political party had produced any information to show that the documentation he utilised was inadequate.

In fact, no political party challenged the numbers he declared.

Before the adjournment yesterday, Senior Counsel Singh announced that a new witness would be called today.

PNC supporter Esther Perreira, of Lot 75 South Sophia, Greater Georgetown, initiated the current proceedings to challenge 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.

She has cited former Presidents Janet Jagan of the PPP/C alliance and PNC Leader Desmond Hoyte, among the List Representatives of all the political parties that contested.

But, all the politicians named, except Hamilton Green of A Good and Green Guyana (AGGG), have agreed to abide the ruling in this matter.

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