Jun 27, 2022 News
– Article 13 urges clear Terms of reference
Kaieteur News – Article 13 has congratulated President Irfaan Ali for taking what they called a “bold step” towards the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the contentious 2020 General elections.
The body’s comments come just weeks after the civil society group had signaled its intention to lobby the diplomatic community to get the government interested in such a probe. Article 13 Co-founder, Yog Mahadeo told the newspaper that after a two-year struggle and demand for an investigation into the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and the 2020 Elections, “we are happy to see that the President has named the Commission of Inquiry. Congratulations to the President for taking this bold step.”
In the meantime, the group said it awaits the terms of reference and other details of the COI. Kaieteur News was informed by Attorney General Anil Nandlall that “all these matters will be addressed upon the President (Irfaan Ali’s) return [from state business overseas]” The Head of State went to Kigali, Rwanda, attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), and is expected to hit Suriname for that country’s two -day Energy, Oil & Gas Summit & Exhibition (SEOGS) 2022 commencing in Paramaribo today.
“We hope that the Commission will be unfettered from political interference and will conduct a comprehensive and transparent review of the conduct of the 2020 elections and of GECOM itself,” Article 13 related in a statement to this newspaper. The civil society organisation insisted that, “no one must be above the law and no one must hide behind the skirt of immunity with impunity.”
It is expected that GECOM itself will be reviewed – in the process and the roles it played to facilitate the six-month -long impasse as well as “the public and private statements of the Commission and Commissioners, the statements of (former President David) Granger and (Vice President Bharrat) Jagdeo as head of their lists; the public statements of the main persons engaged during the recount; the evaluation of the Statement of Polls (SOPs) and their veracity vis-à-vis their publication by various parties.”
Article 13 said that it welcomed to the COI and “now eagerly await their Terms of Reference (ToRs).” “I must say though, they (government) took all of two years, firstly refusing to accept the fact of a COI, then acquiescing but refusing to consult; refusing to have an open door on naming the personnel that comprise the commission. This is why it is my fervent hope to see the TOR and that the Commission acts independently and openly. It is not a (People’s Progressive Party) PPP commission, but a commission for the betterment of all of Guyana,” the civil group said.
In the letter to the diplomatic community, Article 13 had stated that billions of dollars was spent on the 2020 Elections, during which the legislation and regulations were subverted for partisan and personal gain. The reality of those elections included attempted rigging and the politicisation of the Commission, its members and employees.
The group said that observers, diplomats and agents were unceremoniously ejected from the GECOM building to bar independent scrutiny. “Guyanese were amazed and ashamed that it took the Diplomatic Community to intervene to uphold our sovereign nation’s constitution. It was the Diplomatic community that directed the Chairman’s attention to District Four Officer Clairmont Mingo’s actions, and it was the threat of sanctions from the diplomatic community that ultimately brought an end to the saga.”
They said that the prosecution of three former employees of GECOM is not enough. “It is imperative to identify and address the systemic problems that led to these actions so that Guyanese voters can be assured that it will never be repeated in future elections.” President Ali has picked retired Justice of Appeal, Stanley John of the Turks and Caicos to be Chairman of the CoI, while its other members are former Attorney General, High Court Judge and Acting Justice of Appeal in the Eastern Caribbean, Godfrey P. Smith, Senior Counsel; former Chair and Chief Elections Commissioner of India, Dr. S Y Quraishi and former acting Chancellor of Guyana’s Judiciary, Carl Singh. Dr. Afari Jayan and Dr. Nasim Zaidi will serve as resource personnel to assist the Commission with its work.
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