Elections COI officially opens, public hearings begin Friday

The long-awaited Presidential Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the events of the March 2, 2020, General and Regional elections will officially begin public hearings on Friday.

The commission already has more than 20 witnesses lined up to recount what transpired during the March elections and the five-months delay before the results were declared.

Chairman of the Commission, Retired Justice of Appeal, Stanley John alongside Former Attorney General, High Court Judge and Acting Justice of Appeal in the Eastern Caribbean, Godfrey Smith SC, and Former Chancellor (ag), Carl Singh

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.

“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.

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.

“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,” he noted.

The chairman stressed that “in an inquiry of this nature, there is no ‘claimant and defendant’ no prosecutor or accused, no pleadings, charges or indictment.”

Public hearings will commence on, November 4, between 09:00 to 11: 00 hrs

and 13:00 and 16:00hrs. The proceedings will be open to the public and live-streamed for persons to view.

Hearings are expected to be completed by the end of January 2023 and a report estimated to be submitted by the end of March 2023.

The Commission’s Secretary Javed Shadick stated that witnesses are coming forward willingly. He said the commission has not subpoenaed anyone; however, persons were invited to participate in the proceedings.

On September 13, 2022, His Excellency, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali established the

presidential CoI to inquire into what transpired during the general and regional elections of March 2, 2020.

The CoI will make recommendations as it deems fit and necessary to permit the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to discharge its constitutional functions in a manner that is impartial, fair, and compliant with the law.

Evidence during inquiry will be led by Trinidadian Senior Counsel Sophia Chota, Natasha Veira, and Keoma Griffith.

President Ali had said that the findings will be used to hold persons accountable, especially if they are found to be involved in any attempts to rig the polls.

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