More audit observers clarify notes

Stabroek News
December 16, 1999

Two persons who acted as observers for the PPP/Civic during the audit of the 1997 elections results yesterday clarified the meaning of some notes they had made as the elections petition hearing continued.

The explanations of Neil Kumar and Mitradevi Ali came under cross-examination by Peter Britton, SC, counsel for the petitioner Esther Perreira, and after the two had been led by Jeanamime Munroe, counsel for the Chief Election Officer (CEO).

Munroe, who is associated with Doodnauth Singh, SC, had tendered the notes of the two after they had been identified in open court as having been prepared by them.

Kumar explained a note he had made referring to Linden having had more votes, while he was observing the examination of boxes from another district. Kumar, employed by the National Sports Commission as Director of Sport, told the court presided over by Justice Claudette Singh that he had been the PPP candidate for Region Ten and had had Linden on his mind when he made the note.

Kumar also told Britton that when, in one instance, his notes had recorded that stubs were found in a brown carton box, he had in fact been referring to counterfoils. Asked whether he knew that counterfoils were not to be placed in carton boxes, Kumar responded in the negative.

Another note by Kumar was made on paper bearing the letterhead of Foreign Minister Clement Rohee and stated "we gained a few votes in this division." Kumar explained that he had only meant that the PPP had gained more votes than the other parties.

Meanwhile, Ali told the court that in some instances she had not made certain notes either because there was no time to write everything or because she had not deemed it relevant.

The notes she had made reflected that in a few instances, the padlocks on some ballot boxes had had to be cut.

Ali explained that it had been faster for the Audit Commission to cut the locks rather than try every single key they had.

She also conceded that there had been cases where she had seen that some keys were tried and they did not fit the locks.

Ali's notes also spoke of finding a box bearing the Commissioners' Stamp but no lock and of another box which was so small that the seal could not fit and was instead left hanging.

Her notes also referred to boxes being found locked and sealed, but when questioned about whether she had made notes concerning ID cards, Ali said there had been no time. Ali's notes also referred to finding a locked and sealed box which, had a bag inside that was scotch taped.

One note said that the PNC had questioned something about the stamps in one case and that that party had claimed that some envelopes were waxed and that others had contracts of employment.

In another instance, Ali had recorded that someone else had questioned the folding of ballot papers but that "however these could be placed in the box."

The elections petition hearing will continue tomorrow. Perreira is challenging the 1997 elections on the grounds that the process was so flawed that it cannot be said to accurately reflect the will of the electorate. In addition to the CEO, Perreira has named as respondents the heads of political parties contesting the elections, including former presidents Janet Jagan and Desmond Hoyte.

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