Only 160 poll statements unsigned, officers explained why
- Lumumba

Stabroek News
December 9, 1999

PPP/Civic member of Parliament, Odinga Lumumba, yesterday told the elections petition hearing that he agreed with his party's report on the audit process, which had declared that only 160 statements of polls (SOPs) had been unsigned, and that this had been explained by the presiding officers.

Lumumba, a member of the PPP/Civic observer team which had reported on the work of the CARICOM Audit Commission, gave this testimony before Justice Claudette Singh after he had already said that he could not recall personally seeing any unsigned SOPs.

However, he could give no answer when asked by Peter Britton, SC, counsel for Esther Perreira, how many votes the unsigned SOPs represented.

Lumumba was also asked to explain a note he had made during the audit process which read: "This was clearly rigged."

These notes had earlier been tendered in court by Doodnauth Singh, SC, counsel for the Chief Election Officer (CEO), as notes made by Lumumba when he and other members of the PPP/Civic team had observed the audit.

The boxing promoter responded that the note was an off-the-cuff remark and referred to an oil rig, prompting an incredulous Britton to remark on the amount of free time that he (Lumumba) must have had to put down such a flippant remark. Britton's cross-examination came after Lumumba had been led by Singh, who had Lumumba affirm another section of the PPP/Civic's report which spoke of that team's concern at the actions of a woman from CARICOM who was assisting the audit team. The woman in question was identified in the PPP report as having links to a PNC activist, and, according to the report, had made some questionable remarks.

Lumumba, like PPP/Civic observers Joseph O'Lall and Desmond Morian before him affirmed the truth of the statement, adding that the woman's remarks had caused the PPP team to question her neutrality.

Britton asked Lumumba what role the woman had played in the audit process and was told that there were instances when she had been solely responsible for counting voter ID cards.

Britton, however, had him concede that at these times the woman was in public.

Moving on to Lumumba's notes, Britton highlighted several comments contained therein, among them, incidents where padlocks on ballot boxes had had to be cut.

Lumumba explained that the Audit Commission had decided to cut the padlocks after encountering many of them so heavily taped that to open them would have been time consuming.

Britton, reading aloud from Lumumba's notes, also spoke of ballot boxes being found with voter ID cards inside, contrary to the requirements. Others were found without locks and, in one instance, without a document declaring the total number of votes.

Lumumba will have to return to court on Monday when he will face cross-examination by Rex McKay, SC, and may be re-examined by Doodnauth Singh.

The court yesterday also heard testimony from another PPP observer, Richard Kanhai. Kanhai, who told Singh that his job had included recording the votes announced by the CAC, testified that he had observed voter ID cards in ballot boxes as well as SOPs.

In one instance, it was also recorded that a paper bag, rather than a canvas one had contained voter ID cards while in other cases, Kanhai had remarked on ID cards being found within envelopes. Court will resume tomorrow when Kanhai returns to be cross-examined by McKay.

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