Presiding Officer says he reported results from memory

Guyana Chronicle
October 30, 1999

A PRESIDING Officer (PO) in Region Four (Demerara/Mahaica) for the 1997 general elections, Stephen Bishop said yesterday the results he reported were from memory.

Testifying at the hearing of the petition before Justice Claudette Singh, the witness told Mr Hubert Rodney, for respondent Chief Elections Officer Stanley Singh, that he was given materials including a Poll Book and was required to prepare Statements of Poll (SOPs) following the count.

He said, on the basis of counting, he allocated the votes they secured to the various contesting political parties.

But, under cross-examination by Senior Counsel Peter Britton, representing the petitioner Esther Perreira, Bishop admitted he did not compile any SOP but passed on to the Elections Commission what he remembered.

"I had written down some figures on pieces of paper and it was that paper I handed over," the witness said in explanation.

He agreed that the training he received did not permit him to record votes on pieces of scrap paper as he had done.

Bishop said he was interviewed at the Commission yesterday morning and had been shown the same documents the lawyer was asking him about.

"I do not know anything about these documents. I did not prepare them. Neither did I authorise anybody to prepare them for me," the witness asserted.

Another PO tesifying was Surjdai Thakur Ram, who also acknowledged preparing and signing SOPs for the Commission. She placed them in a sealed envelope which she gave the Deputy Returning Officer (DRO).

The third PO who gave evidence yesterday was Myrna Husbands. She had to go and change her attire before being sworn on her return.

She said she prepared SOPs, put a signed one in an envelope that she handed to the DRO and she identified her signature on two for Rodney.

But, when cross-examined by Britton, she disclosed that she had two different ways of writing her name.

She disclaimed one of the autographs, saying she authorised no one to write on her behalf, but accepted another as hers.

Perreira, a People's National Congress (PNC) supporter of Lot 75 South Sophia, Greater Georgetown, is questioning the outcome of the 1997 polls, on the ground that the process was so flawed it cannot be said to have produced an accurate reflection of the electors' will.

In her quest, she has also cited, as respondents, the List Representatives of the political parties which contested, including former Presidents Desmond Hoyte and Janet Jagan.

The proceedings continue on Monday.

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