Retired Justice of Appeal to chair 2020 elections CoI
President Dr Irfaan Ali has named the members of the International Commission of Inquiry (COI) to investigate events of the 2020 general and regional elections, in keeping with commitments he made over a year ago and reassured the country of last week.
Those to be appointed to sit on the CoI are Justice of the Appeal (retired) of Turks and Caicos, Stanley John; former Chancellor of the Judiciary (Guyana), Carl Singh; High Court Judge (Belize) and former Justice of Appeal (ag) in the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, Godfrey P. Smith and former Chief Election Commissioner of India, Dr S. Y. Quraishi.
The News Room understands that Justice John will Chair the Commission.
To assist the commission with its work, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan and Dr Nasim Zaidi will serve as resource personnel, President Ali announced on Tuesday in a statement.
Dr. Ali said that in the coming weeks, the Commissioners and resource personnel will review the reports and documentation of the elections, set out modalities and commence their work.
Quick research by the News Room of the professional background of the Commissioners revealed that they are all well qualified for the appointments.
Dr S. Y. Quraishi, with a doctorate from J M I University, Delhi was the Chief Election Commissioner of India from 2010 to 2012 and served in several high-ranking and strategic government positions.
He is featured in the Indian Express list of 100 Most Powerful Indians of 2011 and again in 2012 and in India Today’s Power List of 100 most powerful Indians, 2012.
Godfrey P. Smith, a Belizean, served as a High Court Judge and Justice of Appeal from 2017 to 2020 and he is now involved in private legal practice.
He served previously as the Minister of Tourism, Foreign Affairs, Attorney General and Chief of Staff in the Office of the Prime Minister and holds among his other certificates a Master of Arts in International Relations.
Stanley John is the current non-resident Justice of Appeal in the Turks and Caicos Islands who severed previously as High Court Judge for several years at eh Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.
With a Degree of Utter Barrister, he also served as a Judge in Trinidad and Tobago and was appointed as the Chairman of the Public Service Appeal Board and the Legal Aid and Advisory Authority there.
Dr. Ali had said that the CoI is particularly important to set the record straight on the attempts to rig the elections to keep the Coalition APNU+AFC in office and deny the PPP/C victory.
The CoI will also investigate the weaknesses in Guyana’s electoral systems and produce recommendations to fix the system.
Through the CoI, persons who attempted to obstruct democracy and the will of the people will be held accountable.
The 2020 elections were marred by controversy after officials from GECOM, with the support of APNU+AFC, attempted to change the results in favour of the coalition.
Three former employees of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) – former Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield; Deputy Chief Elections Officer, Roxanne Myers and District Four Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo are all before the courts facing charges related to electoral fraud.
Other employees of GECOM are also before the courts; one of the fraudulent declarations carried the signature of former Health Minister and APNU Executive Volda Lawrence.
Lawerence is now a Member of Parliament and she too has been charged in relation to the attempts of rigging.