Witness to produce original list of presiding officers

Stabroek News
June 26, 1999

When the Esther Perreira elections petition continues on Tuesday, Returning Officer of Region Five (Mahaica/Mahaicony) during the 1997 general elections, Joseph Gilgeous, is expected to produce the original list of presiding officers which he had submitted to the Elections Commission.

On Thursday, Senior Counsel Peter Britton, who is representing Perreira, had asked the witness to produce the list of names and the balance of the 120 statements of poll. He had tendered 26 of these.

However when the hearing continued yesterday before Justice Claudette Singh, it was found that the list which the witness had tendered was not the original list, but one which was reproduced on Thursday. Britton once again requested that the witness produce the list submitted to the Elections Commission.

Questioned on a summary which he had prepared on the presiding officers, the witness said that he had submitted a copy to the Elections Commission but did not include this in his report. Asked to explain he said the summary was a guide to the Elections Commission so he did not bother to include it in his report.

On the statements of poll, the witness admitted that he had obtained photocopies from the Elections Commission on Thursday to present in court. He could not say what had happened to the original statements after they were submitted to the Elections Commission. Chairman of the Elections Commission, Doodnauth Singh, SC, who is representing the Chief Elections Officer in the current hearing interjected that they were submitted to the CARICOM Audit Commission.

Under cross-examination by Leader of the National Independent Party (NIP), attorney Saphier Hussain, the witness explained that he was told by the Elections Commission that it was the requirement of the law to produce a report on the elections.

Justice Singh asked what the report was all about and Gilgeous explained it contained all that had transpired from the begining of the registration process to the day after the elections were held.

Hussain suggested that the report was incomplete because an omission was made on page 18 with regard to the sum of money expended by the Elections Commission for Region Five. The witness explained that it was inadvertendly left out. "It was an error of mine," he said. He said that he did not have a copy of the expenses as these were kept by the Elections Commission. The witness said that the first time he became aware of the omission was when it was brought to his attention by Britton. He denied Hussain's suggestion that he did not prepare the report himself.

The elections petition has named the representatives of the lists of political parties and the CEO as respondents and seeks to nullify the results of the general elecions held in December 1997.

A page from:
Guyana: Land of Six Peoples