Four more word-of-mouth appointees testify
October 29, 1999
FOUR more Presiding Officers (POs) in Region Four (Demerara/Mahaica) for the 1997 general elections said yesterday that they were word-of-mouth appointees.
Testifying in the elections petition before Justice Claudette Singh, Edwina Rodrigues, Kenneth Persaud, Lilowattie Bissessar and Anandram Mangru maintained they did not receive letters of appointment.
They added, under cross-examination by Mr Raphael Trotman, representing the petitioner Esther Perreira, it was within their knowledge that only such letters are legally acceptable.
Yet they all prepared and signed Statements of Poll (SOPs) certifying the ballots cast in the general and regional elections.
They individually counted˙the votes in the presence of representatives of the contesting political parties and no one challenged the accuracy of the figures, the quartet attested.
Rodrigues said her SOP was placed in an envelope for transmission to the Elections Commission but she could not recall whether she had handed it to the Deputy Returning Officer (DRO) or dropped it in a ballot box.
Persaud testified that, prior to his verbal appointment, he had taken the oath of office.
But, when cross-examined by Trotman, he concurred that merely being sworn meant nothing without instruments of appointment.
Bissessar said she handed her enveloped SOPs to "an Indian man" whose name she cannot now remember.
Mangru, answering Trotman, said, at no time, did he receive instructions that elections materials should be given to one person and the SOP to another.
In the proceedings continuing today, Perreira, a People's National Congress (PNC) supporter of Lot 75 Sout Sophia, Grreater 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.
She has named, as respondents, Chief Elections Officer Stanley Singh and the List Representatives of the political parties which contested, including former Presidents Desmond Hoyte and Janet Jagan.
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