Witness denies report done by commission

Stabroek News
July 27, 1999

Returning Officer of Region One (Barima/Waini) during the December 1997 general elections, Lloyd Baharally yesterday denied that his report was done by the Elections Commission.

Under cross-examination by Senior Counsel Rex McKay in the Esther Perreira elections petition before Justice Claudette Singh, the witness who took the stand for the first time said that he could not remember the exact date on which he had received voters ID cards, as he had made no record of the date. He also did not make any record to show why ten per cent of the electors in his region did not have ID cards. The returning officer also could not recall how many statements of poll he had received personally from his deputy returning officers. This prompted the senior counsel to suggest that the report was compiled by the commission and not by him.

He told the court that he had received 11,172 voter ID cards to be distributed to 12,377 registered voters. He agreed with McKay that approximately 1,205 persons representing some ten percent of the community did not receive their voter ID cards.

Led in his evidence earlier by Senior Counsel Doodnauth Singh the witness said that of the 12,377 registered voters some 10,179 persons had cast votes, this included 47 votes from the Disciplined Services. He testified that 115 polling agents had observed the conduct of the elections at 66 polling stations in Region One which was divided into three sub-districts. According to the witness a count of the ballots revealed that the AFG had 154 votes; AGGG, 34; GBG, 20; GDP, 246; JFAP, 14; NDF, 12; NIP, 24; PNC, 2,535; PPP/C, 5,461; TUF, 1,065.

Asked about the removal of ballot boxes, the witness explained that these were transported to Georgetown by aircraft and were accompanied by Deputy Returning Officer Mary Brown along with security personnel.

When the hearing continues today Senior Counsel Peter Britton is expected to cross-examine the witness.

The petition filed by Perreira who is represented by Britton challenges the results of the general elections and has named the Chief Election Officer and the representatives of the political parties as the respondents. Singh is appearing for the CEO, while McKay represents PNC Leader Desmond Hoyte.

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