Election Petitions: Closing address by Petitioner’s legal team scheduled for end of March, 2016
Yesterday, Bernard Georges, counsel for Wavel Ramkalawan, informed the Constitutional Court that his team needs at least till Wednesday next week to complete examinations of his witnesses with regard to the irregularities that took place in the Presidential runoff between 16th -18th December 2015.
Yesterday, five new witnesses testified in support of the Petitioner, Wavel Ramkalawan. They included two casual workers and three polling and counting agents who represented the Seychelles National Party in the presidential runoff.
The two casual workers’ testimony attempted to establish that a businessman, closely linked to the ruling party, ‘Parti Lepep’, had allegedly bought ID cards from voters prior to the Presidential runoff of 16th-18th December, 2015.
Questioned by Bernard Georges, the two young men, who said they usually work in the Providence Industrial area, told the court they were approached by a businessman, who goes by the name of James Lesperance, who in the morning of December 9th offered a group of casual labourers at Providence, SR500 so they could purchase snacks and beverages. They claimed the man also invited them to his business complex, called ‘Lesperance Complex’ at around 11am, where they were made to sign a contract in the presence of two other women and James Lesperance himself.
Both witnesses told the court they were offered SCR5000 and surrendered their ID cards. They claimed they received SCR2000 on the same day as a first installment, with a promise for the remaining SCR3000 to be given a day before main polling day. However, they informed the court that this did not materialize as the next day their ID cards were returned to them.
One of the two witnesses told the court he made a video to document the incident and also reported it to the Petitioner at Arpent Vert on the same day, who referred him to the Central Police Station where he made a formal complaint.
He also stated he saw James Leperance on television on the inauguration of the second Respondent, James Michel and he was seated in the front row.
The two men were cross-examined by Basil Hoareau, representing second Respondent, who was very brief with one question for each man. The first witness asked whether he had worked for the businessman in the past and if he was he paid for his duties, to which he answered in the positive. Whilst the second casual worker who had told the court he saw James Lesperance at the inaugural ceremony of the second Respondent, was asked whether he had seen other guests seated in the front row on that day, to which he replied in the affirmative.
The other three witnesses were polling and counting agents, Steve Pillay, Phillippe Louise and Regina Esparon, for Au Cap, Anse- Boileau and Glacis districts respectively.
The Petitioner had averred there was a discrepancy between voters who had cast their ballots in special stations and envelopes containing the votes received in stations in electoral areas. For Au Cap, there were a difference of 1 vote, 209 voted and 210 envelopes were received, for Anse-Boileau, 214 voted and 215 envelopes were received, and for Glacis 243voted and 244 envelopes were received.
Only Mr Pillay and Mr Louise were cross-examined on Friday as the defense counsels, Samantha Aglae for first Respondent, Hendricks Gappy and Laura Valabhji, for second Respondent, James Michel, attempted to prove that the missing votes were eventually accounted for by the electoral officers on the same day.
Mrs Esparon’s cross-examination was deferred to this coming Monday as her testimony took most of the afternoon.
Meanwhile, earlier in the day, Danny Sopha, polling and counting agent for the Anse-Aux Pins electoral area completed his testimony with cross-examination from Samantha Aglae and laura Valabhji.
Yesterday, Chief Justice Mathilda Twomey on behalf of the Constitutional Court also requested that “in the name of justice” the court be given sight of a copy of a ballot book, which had been referred to countless times in the testimony of the witnesses.
The Petitioner’s legal team also informed the court that they will need three extra days to present their case and is expected to be completed by Wednesday next week.
After that the court will take a break until March 14th when the defense will present their case. Samantha Aglae for the first Respondent informed the court she will be calling around ten or eleven witnesses, whilst Basil Hoareau, for the second Respondent said he will call around five or seven witnesses to the stand. However, he did not indicate if the second Respondent, James Michel will be called to the stand.
The closing address of the election petition by the Bernard Georges is expected to be heard at the end of March 2016.