Witness recalls fiasco at North Ruimveldt Multilateral

Guyana Chronicle
November 18, 1999

ONE of the witnesses who testified yesterday in the elections petition before Justice Claudette Singh recalled that there was a fiasco at North Ruimveldt Multilateral School, Mandela Avenue, Georgetown, the night balloting ended on December 15, 1997.

Deputy Returning Officer for sub-district La Penitence/Tucville, Pamela Craig said a mob attacked the polling station and Police had to intervene.

The witness, who said she was in charge of 32 polling stations, swore that her tally of votes corresponded with figures on Statements of Poll (SOPs) she prepared the following day.

Craig, the 161st witness to be called on behalf of respondent Chief Elections Oficer (CEO) Stanley Singh, so far, said she had collected SOPs from Presiding Officers (POs), showing that People's National Congress (PNC) secured 5,969 votes and People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) 1,434.

Up to now, a total of 178 witnesses have given testimony in these proceedings.

Under cross-examination by Senior Counsel Peter Britton, for the petitioner Esther Perreira, Craig said, after the voting, she and other officials were ordered to visit the Elections Commission offices daily.

They sat there doing nothing while the results from Region Four (Demerara/Mahaica) were being verified.

Other Senior Counsel Doodnauth Singh, representing CEO Singh, put two more DROs on oath yesterday.

DRO Desiree Morrison, who was responsible for 36 polling places in Diamond/Eccles sub-district, East Bank Demerara, said she visited all on Elections Day and met agents of various political parties, none of whom made any complaint to her.

She said, after the close of poll, she gathered the ballot boxes and more election materials and kept them at her Peter's Hall office until the following day.

However, the POs had relayed the results to the Commission on the night of December 15.

Morrison said, apart from preparing a summary, she received SOPs from the different POs and took them to the Returning Officer's office.

She tendered a copy of her compilation which gave PPP/C 6,260 votes and PNC 3,825.

Answering Britton, the witness said she cannot remember how many SOPs were signed. She was not familiar with the signatures of the POs and did not check the additions, so she was not in a position to vouch for the accuracy of the documentation.

DRO Sylvia Luke, with responsibility for 46 polling places in Bachelor's Adventure sub-district, East Coast Demerara, said POs had attempted to transmit results to the Commission Elections Night but were unsuccessful because telephone lines had broken down.

She, too, compiled a summary that night, containing information identical to what appeared on the SOPs, indicating 5,380 votes for PPP/C and 6,163 for PNC.

Luke told Britton she could not state whether the SOPs from which she copied were signed as required by law and she might have used unsigned ones.

Questioned by Mr Saphier Husain, appearing on his own behalf as respondent List Representative of his National Independent Party (NIP), the witness said their late receipt is the reason some Region Four results were not declared earlier.

In this matter, Perreira, a PNC supporter, of Lot 75 South Sophia, Greater 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.

Former Presidents Desmond Hoyte and Janet Jagan are among the others named as respondents, being List Representatives of contestant political parties.

The hearing continues today.

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