GEORGETOWN, Guyana, September 13, 2022 - Guyana’s main opposition, the APNU+AFC coalition today lashed the Irfaan Ali/Bharrat Jagdeo administration, for setting up a Commission of Inquiry into the 2020 General and Regional Elections at a time, when the matter is under consideration in the Courts.
“The matter is before the court and should be dealt with through the Election Petition,” Opposition Member of Parliament, and Shadow Justice Minister/Attorney General Roysdale Forde said today during a press conference.
Forde explained that in addition to the two Elections Petitions which challenge the validity of the results of the elections and the recount process, there are a number of election related cases before the Magistrates’ Court.
“It is not a question of whether the Executive is possess with the necessary authority to appoint a Commission of Inquiry, the issue which we contend this morning…is in respect of the decision to appoint a Commission of Inquiry where there is an ongoing Election Petition and moreover, there is the issue also that many persons who would have played critical roles in the process of the elections…are currently before the Court, currently charged for a number of criminal offenses that relate to the subject matter of the Commission of Inquiry,” the Opposition shadow Minister noted.
“It is ridiculous for President Ali to be setting up useless commissions while Guyanese are calling for an international team to investigate the alleged bribery and corruption of Second Vice President Jagdeo, '' Forde said.
“The government continues to be complicit in the cover up and is sending the clear signal that it condones and supports corruption once it is committed by the PPP elite, friends, and families,” the APNU+AFC MP said.
Forde said President Ali also needed to convene a Commission of Inquiry, to look into the serious corruption allegations that have been leveled against his Vice President.
Mr. Forde’s statement came shortly after the members of the Elections Commission of Inquiry were sworn-in by Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan at the Office of the President, and is expected to begin its inquiry into certain events related to the 2020 Elections with immediate effect.
According to Attorney General (AG) and Legal Affairs Minister, Anil Nandlall, the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) which was launched to probe illegal events on March 2, 2020, during the General and Regional Elections, will in no way influence proceedings before the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
Nandlall contended that “They are not connected, those matters are already in the court, they were filed two years prior to the commission and there is absolutely no nexus between the two.”
Retired Justice of Appeal of the Turks and Caicos Islands, Stanley John took the oath as chairman of the commission, while former High Court Judge and Acting Justice of Appeal in the Eastern Caribbean, Godfrey P. Smith SC; former Chair and Former Chancellor (ag), Carl Singh, were sworn-in as members.
With the APNU+AFC not supportive of the Commission of Inquiry, it is yet unclear whether any of its representatives will appear before the Commission to provide evidence or information.
The Terms of Reference of the Commission is yet to be released.