Region Two officer admits unable to check accuracy of report

Stabroek News
July 17, 1999

Returning Officer for Region Two (Pomeroon/Supenaam) during the 1997 general elections, Ramjeet Singh, yesterday testified that he had destroyed his rough notes after producing a computerized document on the elections. The report was tendered as evidence.

Under cross-examination by Senior Counsel Peter Britton in the Esther Perreira elections petition before Justice Claudette Singh, the witness said that he did not ask for the diskette on which the information was stored. He agreed with the senior counsel that he did not have any material from which he or the court could check the accuracy of the report.

Asked about the appendices to the report which were not part of his original notes, the witness conceded that he had received the four pages from the National Registration Centre, but could not say exactly from whom. Questioned about a stamp which was on the appendices, the witness agreed with the senior counsel that he did not place the stamp there. However, the witness disagreed with Britton that the computer print out of his appendices and the appendices submitted by Region Six's Returning Officer, Jerome Gajadar, were the same.

Questioned on the storage of the region's 112 ballot boxes after the elections, the retired headmaster could not give the court any reason why he had not stored them at the Suddie Police Station or at any other police station in the region. According to the witness, the boxes were returned to the Elections Commission on December 18, accompanied by himself, PPP party agents and four security personnel.

Led in his evidence earlier by attorney-at-law Jeanenime Munroe, standing in for Senior Counsel Doodnauth Singh, the witness had testified that the boxes were stored at his office located at Anna Regina under armed police protection for 48 hours. Prior to the elections, security arrangements were made with the police commander for region.

Asked about the distribution of the boxes by Munroe, Singh said that polling stations in the Pomeroon and riverain areas had received boxes on December 14, while those on the coast were distributed on the morning of elections day (December 15). Polling stations were opened at 6 am.

Under cross-examination, the witness admitted that he did not personally supervise the distribution of the boxes on December 15, and could not say at what time the boxes were distributed.

On the issue of voter ID cards, the witness said that there were 27,500 electors in Region Two. He had collected 27,458 voter ID cards of which 1,440 were not distributed. According to him these cards were returned to the Chief Elections Officer (CEO). Under cross-examination he explained that persons had migrated from the area.

Asked about the distribution system that had started on October 24, and concluded on December 14, 1997, the witness explained that this was done on a house-to-house basis, from the proposed 112 polling stations and from his office and those of his deputies.

It was put to him by Britton that the ID cards were being distributed simultaneously with food from the Social Impact Amelioration Programme (SIMAP), the witness said that it was the first time he was hearing of that allegation.

Asked about statement of polls (SOPs) by Munroe, Singh said that presiding officers were requested to prepare these after the elections. He had received 112 copies of the SOPs which were subsequently submitted to the CEO through a presiding officer.

At yesterday's hearing, Singh had submitted 27 SOPs, he is to tender the rest to the court on Monday.

Cross-examined by Britton, the witness admitted that he had signed one SOP after he had received a phone call from one of the presiding officers who explained that she had forgotten to sign it and had asked him to do so. He agreed that some of the statements were signed by presiding officers, some by deputy returning officers, while others were totally unsigned.

The petition, which has named the CEO and the representatives of the lists of political parties which contested the polls as respondents, challenges the results of the general elections. Senior Counsel Doodnauth Singh is representing the CEO.

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