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Re: Martineau calls for fresh EBC body

By Earl Manmohan

EBC attorney Russell Martineau SC wants the Government to establish a separate Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) to take over the present body.

He said this new EBC would be able to do the work of the old EBC such as the preparation for the forthcoming Local Government elections.

These elections are due in June when the present term of the 14 regional corporations expires. Prime Minister Patrick Manning however, said earlier this week that the elections would be held by October 12 this year.

Addressing the 19th day of the EBC Commission of Inquiry yesterday Martineau said: "We are asking that you probably ask the Government to set up a new EBC and let us get on with this exercise (inquiry) and the preparation by the EBC for local government (elections) and so on. We could get another commission to do it.

Commission Chairman Justice Lennox Deyalsingh told Martineau the commissioners had a job to do and so did he.

Martineau replied: "I know that, Mr Chairman, it has to be said at some time. This may not be the forum but let me say it here. We certainly don't want to be obstructionists.

We certainly want to facilitate with what we have. We are certainly in favour of easing the anxiety the public may have particularly in matters involving the democratic process, but those who make decisions relating to these matters must make them on the basis of reality."

Martineau stressed: "We are a small country with limited resources. You cannot have four, five, or six things going on at the same time and Mr Chairman you would expect the few people that you have doing it.

He reminded Deyalsingh of what could have happened to the EBC Commission if he (Deyalsingh) hadn't intervened at a certain stage. He added: "I would say no more, we would have had no help.

People don't understand what Commissions of Inquiry involve. You appoint a Commission of Inquiry for this and that.

It is not like that. It is a tremendous strain and burden. I say no more. We promise you we would do our very best.

Martineau was earlier asked to provide electronic discs of the EBC voters' list for the period 1991 to December 2000 to the Commission "like yesterday".

He described this as a formidable task, adding that the EBC staff was working seven days a week to provide information to the inquiry.

Deyalsingh: "We are all working under difficult circumstances. We are stretched. We are not getting the reporters we want, we are doing the best in the circumstances. I hope what you have said would be noted elsewhere."

At the start of the sitting Deyalsingh announced that the Commission would rule on Monday as to the admissibility of evidence of four witnesses whom the PNM wanted to be heard in camera.

He noted that the lady (EBC systems analyst) whom the police visited at home on Wednesday night was someone the EBC relied on to provide a lot of documents for the inquiry.

Martineau said he had made no approaches to the Police on this but to the Director of Public Prosecutions who after making inquiries told him the visit had nothing to do with the inquiry. He said the visit was in connection with their general investigation of other matters.

He said ASP Trevor Paul was not part of the police party as he had told the Commission on Thursday.

However, he said his position on the matter still remained that he was concerned about the incident which took place involving this critical officer at this stage of the inquiry, although it had nothing to do with it.

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