GEORGETOWN, Guyana, June 22, 2022 - Guyana’s President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali has announced the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry (COI) to inquire into the events of the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections.
The Commission will be chaired by Retired Trinidadian Justice of Appeal Stanley John, who will be assisted by Former Attorney General, High Court Judge and Acting Justice of Appeal in the Eastern Caribbean, Godfrey P. Smith SC; Former Chair and Chief Elections Commissioner of India, Dr S. Y. Quraishi; and, Former Chancellor (Ag), Carl Singh.
President Ali says Dr Afari Jayan and Dr Nasim Zaidi will serve as resource personnel to assist the Commission with its work, and “in the coming weeks, the intended Commissioners and resource personnel will review the reports and documentation, set out modalities and commence work.”
The terms of reference for the COI is yet to be outlined.
The appointment of the Commission of Inquiry, follows five months of legal battles, as well as numerous calls from the regional and international community for a settlement of the electoral dispute which say claims of fraud and electoral malfeasance.
The then ruling APNU+AFC coalition finally accepted defeat and stepped down,making way for the Ali-led administration to assume office.
The Inquiry is to be held against the background of an election petition hearing now before the CCJ which will determine the question of whether Guyana’s Court of Appeal can hear the appeal surrounding the dismissal of the Election Petition 99 of 2020.
The Guyana Court of Appeal in January, granted leave to the People’s Progressive Party to appeal its December 21, 2021 ruling that it has jurisdiction to hear and proceed with the Election Petition 99 of 2020, which was thrown out by Chief Justice Roxanne George for late service to former President David Granger.
The Appeal Courts wants the CCJ to determine whether it has the authority to hear the appeal from the Coalition APNU+AFC as decided on December 21 and in light of that, has ordered that its December 21 decision be stayed until the CCJ hears and determines the matter.
In January last year, Chief Justice Roxane George struck out Election Petition 99 of 2020, filed by coalition supporters Monica Thomas and Brennan Nurse. The petition wanted the Court to nullify the outcome of the elections owing to “grave irregularities” discovered during the recount. The case was thrown out by was thrown out by Chief Justice Roxanne George for late service to former President David Granger who was a respondent in the matter.
The opposition coalition maintains that the March 2, 2020 elections were rigged by the PPP in that the voters list on which the PPP won the elections was bloated. In addition, they spoke of issues of multiple voting; voter impersonation; the improper use of certificate of employment and oaths of identity; measures to prevent ballot boxes being counted and processed without statutory documents.
On the other hand, the PPP consistently points to efforts to declare the coalition the winner contrary to the Statements of Poll which were proven in the results of the national vote recount.
Since the elections, several high-level officials of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and the APNU+AFC have faced charges from the Ali government for issues relating to the elections.
The International Republican Institute (IRI) which conducted a recent poll by CID Gallup throughout all regions of Guyana, found that although the vast majority of eligible persons voted in the 2020 general elections many of them did not trust the declared results.
Asked whether they believed that the declared official election results reflect the will of the people, 22 percent said “definitely yes” and 16 percent said “probably yes” while 13 percent said “probably no”, 38 percent said “definitely no” and 11 percent said they did not know/ refused to answer.
Under the category of ethnicity, 48 percent of Africans said “definitely no” to the question on they believed that the declared official election results reflect the will of the people compared to 28 percent of East Indians who also said “definitely no”
In terms of those who thought that the declared official election results reflect the will of the people, 16 percent Africans, 28 percent East Indians, 21 percent Indigenous, and 20 percent mixed said “definitely yes”.
Despite the fact that only 38 percent believed that the elections reflected the will of the people and 51 percent did not, the poll found that 81 percent of Guyanese voted in the 2020 election. The remaining 16 percent did not vote.
Dr. Ali had promised to name members of the examining body last Thursday, during the wreath laying ceremony to commemorate the 74th anniversary of the Enmore Martyrs, at Plantation Enmore, East Coast Demerara Monument.
“The COI will set those who dwell in the house of democracy against those who dwell in the fire of undemocratic rule and norms,” the Head of State remarked.
He is confident that the findings of the COI will see Guyana celebrating yet another victory.
The PPP/C Administration since taking office had vowed to commence groundwork to strengthen the country’s electoral system, which will close major loopholes in the process.
The following details the qualifications for the Commissioners chosen by President Ali: