COI into 2020 elections begins on November 3

The Presidential Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the events of the March 2, 2020 General and Regional elections will commence its work on November 3.

The terms of reference have been completed and published in the official gazette. The inquiry is expected to be completed within seven months.

The President acting in accordance with Section Two of the Commissions of Inquiry Act, Chapter 19:03, established Commission of Inquiry as follows:

I)  To inquire into and report upon the relevant circumstances and events leading up to, and the procedures following, the Regional and General Elections.

II)  The Commission is to inquire into the counting, ascertaining and tabulation of votes polled and the public declaration of those results by the Returning Officer of Electoral District No.4, and other election officers, as prescribed by the Representation of the People Act, chap 1:03 (ROPA) and to establish what attempts, if any, were made to obstruct, frustrate, subvert, and prevent the counting ascertainment and tabulation of votes polled and a declaration of the true results of Electoral District No.4 as prescribed by the said act.

(III) The Commission will also investigate what attempts, if any, were made to obstruct, frustrate, subvert, and prevent a decision of the Guyana Elections Commission made on the 14th day of March 2020, to conduct a national recount of the votes polled at the General and Regional Elections from being executed and implemented…including inquiring into

IV)The conduct of the Chief Election Officer, other Elections Officers, and others in respect of the discharge and execution of the statutory duties of the Chief Election Officer prescribed by the ROPA Act.

V) The commission is to make such recommendations as the Commission deems fit and necessary to permit the Guyana Elections Commission to discharge its statutory functions as prescribed by ROPA… in a manner which is impartial, fair, and compliant with the Constitution and relevant legislation and to make any other recommendations which the Commission deems appropriate having regard to the law and to any evidence which may be presented.

At the swearing-in of the CoI in September, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall, S.C, told the media that the CoI will in no way influence election petition proceedings before Guyana’s Apex Court, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) because the CCJ has already heard one election petition appeal.

“They [CoI] are not connected, [with] those matters [because they] are already in the court, they were filed two years prior to the commission and there is absolutely no nexus between the two.”

The Commissioners that make up the COI are Chairperson, Attorney-General, High Court Judge and acting Justice of Appeal in the Eastern Caribbean, Godfrey P. Smith, S.C., Retired Justice of Appeal, Stanley John, and former Chancellor of the Judiciary (ag), Carl Singh.

The Commission will be assisted in its work by Dr Afari Jayan and Dr Nasim Zaidi as resource personnel.

Any person wishing to give evidence on matters relating to the Commission’s Terms of Reference may contact the Secretary of the Commission of Inquiry at 95 Middle Street, South Cummingsburg, or on Telephone numbers: 592-231-9820 and 592-231-9828.