Persons refusing to participate in elections CoI can be subpoenaed
Minutes before President Dr Irfaan Ali named the members of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) to probe the 2020 general and regional elections on Tuesday, Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo sought to encourage wide participation.
During a press conference at the Office of the President, he said that those within the APNU+AFC Coalition Opposition who were pushing for an internal review within the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) should also participate.
But in the same breath, Jagdeo said once those persons, who are deemed important to get to the truth, refuse to participate, the Commission will be empowered to have them summoned to answer questions and provide evidence.
“This Commission of Inquiry shall be very uncomfortable for the same people who are calling for the internal review, who were so boldly calling for that, suddenly I think they have gone quiet because they realise that many of them will be subpoenaed to participate,” Jagdeo said.
The Vice President said it is untrue that the governing People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) was opposed to an internal review within GECOM because it had something to hide.
“We believe that the Commission of Inquiry will find, as we all know, that APNU attempted to steal the elections.”
It was Justice Claudette Singh, the chair of GECOM, who on June 15 declared that there will be no investigation of the 2020 general and regional elections by GECOM, noting that it is outside of the Commission’s mandate to do so.
Jagdeo explained the government had held off on appointing the CoI because several persons were already facing criminal charges in the court. But after a recent review of the decision at the party level and within the cabinet, the government decided to go ahead with the CoI now.
“So, [Khemraj] Ramjattan and the others will have to tell the public and CoI how the Russians helped the PPP rig the elections and Mr. Norton [Opposition Leader] will have to present his Statements of Poll… they will get a chance to present the evidence to the CoI and we have nothing to fear,” Jagdeo said.
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 along with former Health Minister and APNU Executive Volda Lawrence whose signature appeared on one of the fraudulent declarations.
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.