Illegible report forces premature adjournment

Stabroek News
June 23, 1999

The Esther Perreira elections petition hearing before Justice Claudette Singh was yesterday prematurely adjourned because of an illegible report which was prepared by the Returning Officer for Region Five (Mahaica/Berbice) for the 1997 general elections.

Called by Senior Counsel Doodnauth Singh, who is representing the Chief Elections Officer (CEO) in the matter, Joseph Gilgeous took the witness stand after final testimony was given by Region Three's Returning Officer, Gurdat Persaud.

However, when Gilgeous's report was presented to the court, Senior Counsel Peter Britton, who is representing Perreira, objected to its use as the 17-page typewritten report could not have been read due to a very light ink.

The court requested the witness to have the document properly prepared for examination and cross-examination today.

Meanwhile, led in his evidence by Singh, the witness said that there were in excess of 31,000 persons eligible to vote in Region Five and that he had collected and distributed over 31,000 voters ID cards.

On the issue of security measures for polling day, the witness said that he had met the commanders for the Mahaicony and Fort Wellington police stations and they had agreed to provide 24 hours armed security for his office at Onverwagt and for the offices of the four deputies when ballot boxes were distributed.

Out of the 120 polling stations set up in Region Five, Gilgeous said that he had visited about 30 on elections day. These, he said, were manned by polling officials. He also said that electoral agents from both the PNC and the PPP/Civic parties were present at all stations. The witness told the court that he did not receive any complaints from the polling stations.

Questioned by the Counsel Singh on the storage of ballot boxes, the witness said that at the close of polls the four deputies were to collect these and store them at their respective offices. According to him, the Returning Officer subsequently collected all the boxes and returned them to the elections commission in Georgetown.

When the hearing resumes today, Singh is expected to continue his examination of the witness. The petition challenges the validity of the elections results and has named the representatives of the lists of political parties which contested the elections and the CEO as the respondents.

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Guyana: Land of Six Peoples