The Presidential Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the events that followed the March 2, 2022 General and Regional Elections officially begins today, with Chairman Stanley John declaring that the exercise is only interested in uncovering “the truth”.
“This inquiry has no case to prove. It is interested in the truth and in fair conclusions based on the evidence properly analyzed,” he posited.
“This is an inquiry to find out what in fact occurred, why it occurred, who, if anyone, is responsible, and what can be done to prevent a reoccurrence,” he added.
The COI Chairman accepted that the responsibilities before him and his fellow Commissioners are “serious and heavy” and committed to executing their duties with the utmost professionalism.
“It is a responsibility that I, and my fellow Commissioners intend to discharge carefully, with professionalism, efficiency, thoroughness, fairness, objectivity and impartiality.”
Among its Terms of Reference (ToR), the COI Chair disclosed that the undertaking is intended to inquire into and report upon the relevant circumstances and events leading up to and the procedures following the March 2, 2020 elections regarding the counting, ascertaining and tabulation of votes polled and the public declaration of those results by Returning Officer of Region Four and other election officers.
It is also mandated to determine what attempts, if any, were made to obstruct, frustrate, subvert and prevent the counting ascertainment and tabulation of votes as well as what attempts, if any, were made to obstruct, subvert and prevent a decision of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on March 14, 2020 to conduct a national recount of the votes polled.
The COI is also expected to investigate the conduct of the Chief Election Officer and other election officers and others in respect of the discharge and execution of their statutory duties and finally, to make recommendations as to permit GECOM to discharge its statutory functions.
Public hearings will begin tomorrow at 95 Middle Street, Georgetown, Guyana.
It is the hope of the Commissioners to complete public hearings by the end January 2023 and to have its report completed and handed over to President Dr Irfaan Ali by the end March 2023.
John is a retired Justice of Appeal of Turks and Caicos. The other Commissioners are former acting Justice of Appeal in the Eastern Caribbean, Godfrey P Smith, and former acting Chancellor of Guyana’s Judiciary, Carl Singh.
They will be assisted by former Chief Elections Commissioner of India, Dr Nasim Zaidi, and former Chairman of the Ghana Elections Commission, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, who will serve as resource personnel to the COI.