GEORGETOWN, Guyana, November 4, 2022 - The Government of Guyana’s controversial Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the March 2, 2020 general and regional elections is expected to get underway on Friday November 4, with a three- man Board of inquiry headed by retired justice of appeal Stanley John.
During the official launch on Thursday, Chairman of the Commission, Retired Justice of Appeal, Stanley John, said the CoI is tasked with uncovering what occurred during the March 2020 elections, why it happened, and what could be done to prevent or reduce the chance of a recurrence of those events.
Justice John is supported by former Chancellor of the Judiciary, Carl Singh, and High Court Judge (Belize) and former Justice of Appeal (ag) in the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, Godfrey Smith, SC.
The commissioner said that the responsibility is a ‘serious and heavy’ one that he and his colleagues intend to discharge carefully, with professionalism, efficiency, thoroughness, fairness, objectivity, and impartiality.
“This inquiry has no ‘case’ to prove; it is interested in the truth and in fair conclusions based on the evidence properly analysed,” he said.
“We shall ensure that the report of this inquiry is scrupulously fair both in terms of an accurate recording of the events we will be investigating and in terms of any criticism we may make of persons involved in those events,”
“in an inquiry of this nature, there is no ‘claimant and defendant’ no prosecutor or accused, no pleadings, charges or indictment.”
He said public hearings are scheduled to be completed by the end of January, 2023 and the report would be submitted to President Irfaan Ali by the end of March.
The opposition A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) has criticised the COI saying that only an election petition can investigate the outcome of an election.
In addition, the Opposition maintains had not been consulted on the development of the Terms of Reference for the Inquiry.
The opposition had urged the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) administration to jointly agree to the COI’s Terms of Reference so that the process and the outcome would have been broadly accepted by all Guyanese.
The COI is mandated to inquire into and report upon the relevant circumstances and events leading up to and the procedures following the regional general elections held in Guyana on 2nd March 2020.
These include the counting, ascertaining and tabulation of votes polled, and the public declaration of those results by the returning Officer of electoral district number four, and any other election officers as prescribed by sections 84 to 89 of the Representation of the People Act.
The COI will also seek to unearth what attempts, if any, were made to obstruct, frustrate, subvert and prevent the country ascertainment and tabulation of votes polled and the declaration of the true results of electoral district number four.
It will also seek to determine what attempts if any, were made to obstruct, frustrate, subvert and prevent the decision of the Guyana elections Commission meeting on the 14th of March 2020 to conduct a national recount of the votes polled at the general and regional elections held in Guyana on the second of March 2020 from being executed and implemented, and if so, by whom.
The COI will also examine the conduct of the chief election officer or the election officers and others in respect of the discharge and execution of the statutory duties of the chief election officer prescribed by section 96 and 97 of the Representation of the People Act.
Further, the COI is tasked to make such recommendations as they deem fit, and necessary to permit the Guyana Elections Commission to discharge its statutory functions, as prescribed by the Representation of People Act in a manner which is impartial, fair, and compliant with the Constitution and relevant legislation and to make any other recommendations, which we deem appropriate, having regard to the law and to any evidence which may be present presented.