‘Not cheap but essential’ – 2020 elections inquiry panel officially sworn in
The commissioners who will lead an inquiry into the events of the 2020 regional and general elections have been sworn in. And though it will not be a cheap undertaking, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall SC Tuesday said the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) is much-needed.
Nandlall spoke to reporters after the swearing-in of three commissioners for this Presidential Commission. They 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.
Justice John is the chair of the Commission.
These members were sworn in at the Office of the President on Tuesday, while surrounded by members of the diplomatic community, the local private sector, other government officials and other members of civil society.
Former Chief Election Commissioner of India, Dr S. Y. Quraishi, whose name was previously announced, was not sworn in on Tuesday.
“Commissions of Inquiry of this type, being composed by the stature of persons that compose this CoI is never a cheap undertaking but monetary value alone cannot determine the importance of events,” Nandlal posited.
The Attorney General contended that Guyana’s democracy was under threat over the five-month protracted election period in 2020.
He contended that undemocratic rule, as had been experienced in the past, bankrupted the country.
“The world saw, (and) you all saw, flagrant attempts made to alter unlawfully the results of those elections at several stages.
“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 it will form part of the permanent part of this record of this country,” Nandlall stated.
As reported previously, 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.
Aside from this CoI, Nandall reminded reporters that the government is also pursuing other efforts to strengthen the country’s electoral system.