Justice Claudette Singh's ruling on the poll petition

What the people say about... By Miranda La Rose
Stabroek News
January 22, 2001

The 1997 elections were last Monday declared void by Justice Claudette Singh on the grounds that the requirement for voter ID cards was unconstitutional. We sought the views of the man/woman on the street:

Roderick Cosbert - private sector employee: 'I think I need some more clarification on her ruling. And I really do not think it was a win or lose case as such. She voided the elections based on the unconstitutional use of the voter ID cards but all the parties who were in parliament prior to the elections should bear responsibility for that. Because of the voiding of the elections I do not think that any party or any one man should take a strong-man attitude and decide that I will hold on to power, or, that no one should be in power. The affairs of state have to be administered and business go on. So in the interest of the country I think that the ad hoc government and the parliamentary parties, those in power before the elections were voided, should meet and form some kind of coalition until elections are held. If they really love Guyana they will do it.'

Raul Chin - businessman: 'With Justice Claudette Singh's ruling I feel that justice is not lost in Guyana anymore.'

Pearl Giddings - housewife: 'I was disappointed with the ruling because I feel that the elections should not have been voided. The parties agreed to the use of the voter ID cards and now that the judge has ruled it unconstitutional, parties are claiming victory based on the ruling. I find this kind of disgusting and disappointing but I guess that is politics and politicians. The main thing now though should be to preserve peace and to get on with the business of preparing for the upcoming elections after which we get down to the business of developing the country.'

Gerald Singh - plastic welder/overseas-based Guyanese: 'I am not so sure I understand all that the good judge said but what I do know is that she claims the constitution was violated by the use of Voter ID card which denied voters their right to vote so she based her ruling on that. If that was the case I agree with her ruling. Many Guyanese were not happy after the last general elections not knowing for sure if the elections were above board. New elections would be the solution.'

Ricky Khan - businessman: 'I have always said that the electoral process was badly flawed and the judge's ruling has justified my feeling. So apart from being flawed the elections were held illegally breaching the constitution. Though I am still looking at the ruling I feel that at least there was a little bit of justice. Like most people who felt cheated at the last elections and felt that no justice would have been had out of the petition, had the judge found nothing grossly wrong I would have said that justice is dead in this country. Her ruling has given me some faith in the judicial system and I don't feel that the demonstrations were in vain. I now look forward to the Madame Judge making the consequential order on Tuesday.'

Lenny Singh - self-employed: 'I thought the ruling was fair. She summarised the evidence and gave her views on them. While she gave reasons why she could not rule whether the elections were fraudulent because of a lack of evidence or inconclusive evidence she did point out a number of irregularities and flaws which amount to illegalities. Though that might not have been sufficient to void the elections she did find evidence in the unconstitutional use of the voter ID card to void the elections. I think that alone was justice because all of us know that votes were stolen. As a member of the Guyana Democratic Party I know that my vote in the area where I lived was not counted. With the support the GDP had we should have at least had a seat in the National Assembly. As far as I am concerned, we were, as our after elections protest banner said, Cheated - Not Defeated.'

Alana Lewis: - 'After the last elections I was never comfortable with the results and the government that took over. I always felt that something was wrong. Justice Singh's ruling has justified my fears. I think she has been fair. If the elections had not been voided I would have said that let the government stay on until elections are held but once they remain there I will still not feel safe. All parties in parliament before the last elections should come together and run the country until elections are held. Right now I would like to feel an air of confidence about me.'

Tony Rome - private sector employee: 'My reaction is simply that the government should step down and be big enough to meet the other parties which would have been in parliament prior to the December 15, 1997 elections. Those in government should know that they are not the rightful government and keep peace. I am satisfied with the ruling because I feel it gives the masses a sense of justice and fair play. Her ruling is what I was hoping for all the time. But I can assure you that I never expected that she would rule in favour of the petitioner. She is also very right. Lots of people were disenfranchised at the last elections and I guess they are satisfied as well. They are awaiting the consequential order now like me and I would hope that once the order is made it be accepted in good faith in the interest of the country.'

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