No connection between CCJ, elections Commission of Inquiry – AG Nandlall, S.C

CoI members sworn-in before Chief Magistrate

DPI Guyana, Tuesday, September 13, 2022

The Commission of Inquiry (CoI) which was launched to probe illegal events on March 2, 2020, during the General and Regional Elections, will in no way influence proceedings before the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

Attorney General (AG) and Legal Affairs Minister, Mohabir Anil Nandlall, S.C., contended that the CCJ has already heard one election petition appeal.

Members of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) along with government ministers after the swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday

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

The AG made the clarifications following the swearing-in of the new CoI into the March 2 polls, at the president’s Shiv Chanderpaul Drive office on Tuesday.

Retired Justice of Appeal of the Turks and Caicos Islands, Stanley John took the oath before Chief Magistrate, Ann McLennan as chairman of the commission.

Former High Court Judge and Acting Justice of Appeal in the Eastern Caribbean, Godfrey P. Smith SC; former Chair and Former Chancellor (ag), Carl Singh, OR, CCH, were sworn-n as members.

The AG contended that Guyana has a history of elections rigging and there must be a proactive effort to squash the illegal play.

The country’s social system and its people were virtually destroyed due to rigged elections, Minister Nandlall further emphasised.

To this end, he asserted that the CoI is only part of the process of ensuring that the activity never happens again.  

He said the establishment of the CoI is a promise delivered by the president and reiterated that democracy is central to the rule of law.

Chairman of the CoI, Retired Justice of Appeal of the Turks and Caicos Islands, Stanley John took the oath before the Chief Magistrate on Tuesday

“Development cannot take place in the absence of the rule of law and or democracy. Our democracy was under severe threat at the March 2, 2020 elections, we saw, the world saw, you all saw flagrant attempts made to alter unlawfully the result of those elections at several stages of the process,” the AG noted.   

In some instances, he said, attempts were made by the APNU+AFC to use the judiciary to help suppress the will of the people.

“That must be interrogated, that must be investigated so that persons can be held responsible, the illegality and the conspiratorial role played by many will be exposed and most importantly it must form part of the permanent record of this country if only for one objective, that they must never be a reoccurrence of what transpired,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, in the interim, the administration is currently pursuing statutory electoral reforms, while several other measures are being undertaken to ensure what occurred at the March 2 polls does not recur.

The AG reminded that the PPP/C Government is committed to constitutional reform, which is evident in the bill tabled in the National Assembly.

The government submitted that the constitutional reform commission is established by law and that its members be appointed by the president.

Fifty per cent of the membership shall be selected from the government and the opposition, while the other 50 per cent will be drawn from civil society organisations.

The PPP/C Administration since taking office had vowed to commence groundwork to strengthen the country’s electoral system, which will close major loopholes in the process.

The government will be seeking changes including establishing that SOPs be used as the only basis for the tabulation of results, instead of spreadsheets.

The administration also wants SOPs to be posted online by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and contesting political parties within 24 hours of receipt.

The APNU+AFC Coalition made vile attempts to rig the March 2 elections, presenting fake SOPs and claiming victory.

Following five months of Legal battles, the will of the people being stifled and numerous calls from the regional and international community, the APNU+AFC accepted defeat and stepped down, finally making way for the constitutionally elected President Ali-led administration to assume office.

Since then, several high-level officials of GECOM and the APNU+AFC faced charges before the courts for issues relating to the elections.