Presiding Officer says she used two signatures

Guyana Chronicle
October 21, 1999

RUTH Downer, a Presiding Officer (PO) in Region Four (Demerara/Mahaica) said yesterday that she used two signatures on Elections Day 1997.

Testifying in the elections petition before Justice Claudette Singh, the witness said she utilised one on the Statements of Poll (SOPs) for the general elections and the other to authenticate the regional results.

Downer gave the explanation when informed that a previous witness, People's National Congress (PNC) Deputy Campaign Manager Amna Ally asserted that she had written Ruth Downer on one document and R. Downer on another.

"I have two signatures, one for banking and one for other purposes," Downer pointed out, before admitting that the signature on the general SOPs, which appeared to be dissimilar to that on the regional documentation, was also hers.

Downer, under cross-examination by Mr Raphael Trotman, for the petitioner Esther Perreira, did not recognise who signed next to her on one SOP.

The additional endorsement was not attached to her original and she did not see that SOP in Court yesterday.

All those shown her were copies of her originals, the witness said.

Another PO, Bridget Ramsaroop, who was stationed at Campbellville Secondary School in the city, looked at an SOP and acknowledged preparing it.

But, after noting that a line had been drawn across the first page to facilitate the recording of both the general and regional votes instead of putting them on separate pages, she said: "I did not make this alteration."

She said the SOP prepared by her indicated that four political parties participated in the balloting and the one she disclaimed listed five.

One more PO, Debra Fraser, who was at Bel Air Lions Den, answered Senior Counsel Peter Britton, leading counsel for Perreira, that, although she was gazetted as an Assistant PO, she was appointed PO on Elections Day.

She could not state what caused the change.

Fraser, too, observed that a dividing line had been put on the record she signed to accommodate the two sets of SOPs.

She looked at an unsigned SOP exhibit and said its preparation was not by her.

The last PO to testify yesterday was Norma Barry, who informed Britton that she had forwarded a signed SOP to the Elections Commission and knew nothing about the one without signature purporting to have emanated from her polling place.

"Not a single thing in this document was written by me. And I did not authorise anyone to make up any SOP on my behalf," she maintained.

Perreira, a PNC supporter of Lot 75 South Sophia, Greater Georgetown, is seeking to annul the outcome of the December 15, 1997 general elections.

The proceedings continue today.

A © page from:
Guyana: Land of Six Peoples