Testimony continues on audit report

Guyana Chronicle
November 30, 1999

SENIOR Counsel Mr Rex Mc Kay, representing PNC leader Desmond Hoyte at the hearing of the December 1997 general elections petition, yesterday urged the court to prevent Dr Leslie Ramsammy from putting a PPP/Civic observer team report in evidence.

But following explanations and clarifications by Senior Counsel Mr Doodnauth Singh, for the number one respondent, Mr Stanley Singh, Chief Elections Officer, the witness was allowed to continue his testimony.

He was, however, advised to confine his evidence to matters relating to the voter identification cards used at the December 15, 1997 general elections.

Ramsammy was giving evidence on certain aspects of a report dealing with the monitoring of the audit of the elections by a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) team, headed by former Trinidad and Tobago judge, Mr Ulric Cross. Ramsammy, as head of the PPP/Civic observer team for the audit, compiled the report on behalf of his party.

Mc Kay contended that while the Cross report was admissible in evidence, Ramsammy's did not share the same fate, since he admitted that others contributed to the document and therefore could not vouch for the truth of the contents.

Singh countered by saying that Ramsammy's report was admissible since he compiled it from his own notes and those handed to him by persons who were under his control.

Ramsammy is the 184th witness to testify since the hearing began on September 28, 1998 on the challenge to the elections by Esther Perreira, a supporter of the main opposition PNC (People's National Congress). Of this number, 17 witnesses have been called to testify for the petitioner.

On the resumption yesterday, Ramsammy was further re-examined by Singh.

Having given evidence about the audit exercise in Region One he went on to testify about what happened in the other regions.

According to him, in Region Two, the audit team found that the number of votes cast totalled 24,806 as against 19,464 voter ID cards. Of that number, the PPP/Civic collected 17,049, against 6,574 for the main opposition PNC.

The declaration by the Elections Commission had shown that the PNC got 6,552 and the PPP/Civic 17,081.

In relation to Region Eight, the votes cast were 3,609, against 3,598 voter ID cards. The PPP/Civic got 792 and the PNC 1,148. The Elections Commission declaration had given the PNC 1,140 and the PPP/Civic 788.

The audit team results in relation to Region Seven as recorded by the PPP/Civic report showed the ballots cast as 8,237 with voter ID cards numbering 5,892. The PPP/Civic got 3,231 and the PNC 4,333.

The Elections Commission declaration had showed the PPP/Civic getting 3,229 and the PNC 4,316.

In relation to Region Four, the ballots cast were 173,939 with recoverable voter ID cards numbering 158,764. The PPP/Civic got 77,393 and PNC 89,205.

The Elections Commission's declaration showed that the PPP/Civic got 76,753 and PNC 89,609.

At this stage, Mc Kay, appearing for Hoyte with Mr Shawn Allicock, objected to Ramsammy's testimony.

He told Justice Claudette Singh the issue before the court was not the number of votes secured by the political parties but alleged flaws. He argued that to continue to lead evidence about spoilt votes and the number of votes each party got was irrelevant in the circumstances and an exercise in futility.

Mc Kay said Ramsammy should confine himself to recovery of ID cards and declared that he suspected that the evidence of the other side was intended to show that voter ID cards were taken care of.

Perreira is challenging the validity of the elections and has named 11 respondents, including Chief Elections Officer Singh.

The hearing continues today. (GEORGE BARCLAY)

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