GUYANA: Commission of Inquiry into 2020 elections to open next week – President Ali

– President to empanel commissioners Tuesday

Jun 17, 2022 —Kaieteur News

In what can be seen as an about-face decision, President Irfaan Ali announced on Thursday that next week Tuesday, he will be naming the persons to sit on an international panel to inquire into the chaotic 2020 General and Regional elections.

Ali made the announcement while wrapping up his speech at the Enmore Martyrs’ Commemoration Service. “In honour of these martyrs and all Guyanese who fought relentlessly to ensure that our country did not go down as an undemocratic state…we will have an international CoI into the last elections.

Not a review…we promise, particularly your President promise a CoI and I say to all of you before dawn on Tuesday, your President will name the members of that CoI and those who sought to subvert democracy… the COI will set the truth from the untruth…” Ali declared.             

Ali’s announcement comes a few days after Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo had indicated that this (CoI) is not the route the government wishes to take at this time. He then doubled down on his position on Wednesday when he told a news conference that he believes the decision by the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission to not allow the review is the right one. He said for such a review to take place, persons no longer in the employ of GECOM and who are before the Court for alleged wrongdoings would be relied on for information.

Jagdeo said he believes that the matters which face the Elections Commission can be accommodated in the amendment to the Representation of the People’s Act. “It’s nonsense, it’s before the court now. And then, they are trying to link this review with support for the amendment for the Representation of the People’s Act. Now clearly, they don’t want the Representation of the People Act to be amended even after going through a public process and everybody recognizes now that we have to put arrangements in place in the Act to avoid some of the things we have had,” Mr. Jagdeo said.

At a previous news conference, Jagdeo had told Kaieteur News that the government actually wanted to conduct the CoI, but ran into some difficulty when court cases were filed against “key figures.” He explained that the government was advised by “a lot of people” that those charged for election skullduggery would not want to participate in the CoI by claiming that their responses would incriminate them in court.

He said that those charged for the 2020 events are some of the central figures in any COI. “And when they are charged, as their defense, they will say, I don’t want to appear at the COI, [that] whatever I say there will incriminate me in the court case. So, you may lose the key figures that are in charge of the rigging…,” Jagdeo opined. He submitted that since the possibility of non-participation or non-corporation by the “key figures” exists, it is the government’s rationale for not holding the CoI.

On the matter of rigging accusations by both the government and the opposition, Jagdeo said that the governing People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) has already put forward its Statement of Polls (SoPS); while the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) has not done so.

Jagdeo said nonetheless that it still needs to be proven where (Region 4 Returning Officer (RO), Clairmont) Mingo got the numbers that showed a victory for the Coalition. “But Mingo will not be able to tell the people at the CoI since he would say, he is not coming there because he has a court case filed against him,” Jagdeo assumed.

He said, and if Mingo does not say where he got the figures, then it would be unclear how former Health Minister, Volda Lawrence’s signature ended up on the RO report. Following the contentious 2020 General and Regional election, President Ali had committed to having a CoI into the actions that led to accusations of rigging and eventually the prosecuting several persons.

Given the number of unanswered questions such as the ones put forward by the Vice President, Article 13 member Dr. Yog Mahadeo had stressed the serious need for the CoI to be conducted. He told the Kaieteur News that the VP, and by extension the government, “cannot be judge and jury in determining beforehand that persons will not want to speak [at the CoI] for fear of incriminating themselves.

Dr. Mahadeo in full support of the 2020 CoI insisted that it should be a government mandate to inform the citizens as to what happened during the election; not to just say the guilty persons will not want to testify. Dr. Mahadeo had told this newspaper that he was working on letters to dispatch to the international missions that played an oversight role in the 2020 elections calling on them to lobby the administration. It is not clear whether those letters influenced Ali’s announcement.

    RELATED ARTICLES

Pressure mounts on GECOM to launch probe into 2020 polls  May 30, 2022 In “News”

Govt. backs away from holding CoI into 2020 elections  June 3, 2022  In “News”

Opposition mulls formal motion in pursuit of review of 2020 elections  June 17, 2022  In “News”

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