GUYANA | President Ali names Commission to inquire into 2020 Elections

GUYANA | President Ali names Commission to inquire into 2020 Elections

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. 

Retired Justice of  Appeal Stanley John, to head probe into March 2, 2020  general electionsRetired Justice of Appeal Stanley John, to head probe into March 2, 2020 general electionsThe 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:

Retired Justice of the Appeal Stanley H.W. John

Retired Justice Stanley John is currently serving as the Non-Resident Justice of Appeal, Turks and Caicos Islands. He presides over criminal and civil appeals from the Supreme Court.

Prior, He served as Temporary High Court Judge of The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in Montserrat from April – July 2021.  He also served as Temporary High Court Judge of The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in the British Virgin Islands and Temporary High Court Judge of The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in Antigua and Barbuda.

In addition to these, Retired Justice Stanley John was once a Puisne Judge in Trinidad and Tobago from 1994 to 2002 where he presided over criminal trials and headed the Criminal Division of the High Court. 

His professional appointments are as follows:

  • Chairman of The Public Service Appeal Board, Trinidad & Tobago | Mar 2019 – Present
  • Member of The Ethics Committee Cricket West Indies (CWI), Trinidad & Tobago | 2016 – 2021
  • Disciplinary Tribunals for Magistrates, Trinidad & Tobago | 1996
  • Executive Director / Chairman of The Legal Aid and Advisory Authority, Trinidad & Tobago | 1990 – 1993.

 

Godfrey P. Smith

Godfrey Phillip Smith SC has served as Attorney General of Belize, a High Court Judge, and an Acting Justice of Appeal in the Eastern Caribbean. Each has a track record of distinguished adjudication while leading major reforms and innovation to achieve efficiency in the business of resolving disputes.

He has also served as Minister of Tourism & National Emergency Management,

Minister of Foreign Affairs & Foreign Trade, Attorney General & Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Chief of Staff of the Office of the Prime Minister of Belize, and a Member of the House of Representatives.

Currently, the Former Attorney General is Partner at ByronSmith, Arbitrators & Litigation Support Services and Senior Partner, at Marine Parade Chambers, LLP, Attorneys-at-Law.

Dr S.Y. Quraishi

Dr. S.Y. Quraishi holds a bachelor’s degree (Hons) and a master’s degree in History from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University. He later gained a PhD from the J M I University, Delhi.

He joined the Indian Administrative Service in 1971 and after holding several strategic and key positions, rose to become the 17th Chief Election Commissioner of India, the world’s largest democracy.

Among the numerous posts Dr Quraishi has held were: Chief Election Commissioner of India, July 2010- June 2012, Election Commissioner of India, June 2006- July 2010 and Secretary, Govt. of India Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, 2005-2006. HE is also credited for founding the India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management from which more than 75 countries have received training in this institute within five years.

More recently, he was a member of the Board of Advisors of International IDEA (Institute of Democracy and Electoral Assistance) Stockholm for 9 years (2012 – 2021). 

Dr Quraishi was nominated to be a Global Ambassador of Democracy alongside Kofi Annan by International IDEA (Institute of Democracy and Electoral Assistance) Stockholm in Oct 2018.

Retired Chancellor (ag.) Carl Singh

Retired Chancellor (ag)Carl Singh has held several key positions following his admission to the Bar in 1982.  He fulfilled the roles of Magistrate- 1983, Land Court Judge-1988, High Court Judge-1995, and Court of Appeal-2000. In 2001, Retired Chancellor (ag)Carl Singh was appointed Chief Justice, and from 2005 – 2017 he served as acting Chancellor of the Judiciary.  

The retired Chancellor (ag) also served as the Chairman of the Advisory Council to the President of Guyana on National Honours from 2005- 2017. From 2017-2019 he served as Professor of Law and head of the Department of Law, University of Guyana.

Retired Chancellor (ag) Carl Singh was awarded 2nd and 3rd Highest National Honours – OR and CCH respectively.

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