All elections CoI spending will be made public – AG
…“they are mortally afraid” – Nandlall on APNU/AFC
Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall has reassured that all the spending on the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the events that unfolded following the March 2020 General and Regional Elections that led to a five-month political impasse in Guyana will be made public.
He was at the time responding to a request made by APNU/AFC Opposition Member of Parliament Ganesh Mahipaul to the Commissioner of Information for the full disclosure of the renumeration packages of the Commissioners appointed to probe the March 2020 polls.
Mahipaul is also seeking similar information on the salaries and other benefits of additional persons attached to the Commission.
During his weekly programme, Issues In The News, Nandlall posited that Government would publish not only the renumeration packages, but all the spendings of the CoI.
“…It is going to be an expensive undertaking, and I want to assure that every single cent of the monies that are going to be expended will be made public, because it is public funds. We are going to make it public, but they’re not worried about the money, what they’re worried about is the exposure. What they’re worried about is what the commission of inquiry may expose; that is what they’re worried about, and the consequential actions which may flow therefrom. So, the monies expended and to be expended are to be made public,” he contended.
According to the Attorney General, the CoI is not a secret venture, especially since it has to be appropriated by the Parliament. As such, he noted that all the information will be made public, and the Guyanese people will stand to benefit tremendously from this inquiry.
Past elections riggings
In fact, Nandlall reminded of the destruction Guyana and its people had to face economically and socially during past elections’ riggings in the 1900s – something which he noted the country has not fully recovered from.
“This inquiry must ensure that those things never happen again, and if you think this inquiry mustn’t happen, well then you assess the monetary value of the destruction which took place when elections were rigged in this country, and then you will understand that the monies that will be spent here is of a miniscule value when you compare the damage that rigged elections have done to Guyana and its people.
“The benefits [of this CoI into the 2020 Elections] are that those who acted in consort with those who are part of the rigging cabal to rig those election results must be exposed, so that the public would know them and appropriate actions can be taken thereafter. Secondly, that their role and what transpired must be enquired into and put on the public, permanent record of this country, so that future generations will know who they are and what role they played or attempted to play in the destruction of this country,” the Minister stated.
Additionally, AG Nandlall noted that this exposure and the consequences that would flow from this probe must redound to such actions never happening again, as well as act as a deterrent in the future.
“This inquiry and its report must prevent others from ever attempting the type of atrocity that we witnessed on March 2, 2020 and the events that followed thereafter,” he insisted.
The Attorney General further posited that while this will be an expensive undertaking, this CoI is necessary, especially to bring to light those who were behind the events following the March 2020 polls – something which he argued that the Opposition is afraid of.
“APNU/AFC would be vehemently opposed to the CoI for obvious reasons. They are mortally afraid of the CoI uncovering the roll that they played… And anytime exposé is imminent, those who are guilty are going to naturally object, and you are seeing the manifestation of the objections, manifestation of the pandemonium, manifestation of the hysteria unfolding. They don’t want this commission at all… It is not about money, it was never about money,” AG Nandlall pointed out.
Last week, retired Justice of Appeal Stanley John of Turks and Caicos, who will serve as Chairman of the CoI, along with former acting Justice of Appeal in the Eastern Caribbean, Godfrey P Smith, and former acting Chancellor of Guyana’s Judiciary, Carl Singh, were sworn-in to commence the inquiry.
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.
Nandlall stated that such calibre of commissioners, such an expensive undertaking, is necessary, and that a monetary value cannot be placed on the benefits that would be derived from this inquiry.
Following a largely smooth polling day on March 2, 2020, Guyana was thrown into a tumultuous five-month political and electoral impasse after the then incumbent APNU/AFC regime attempted to steal the election. It was found during a subsequent national recount process that former Returning Officer for Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica), Clairmont Mingo, had heavily inflated the votes in favour of the coalition party.
Since the election fiasco unfolded, several persons that served within the apparatus of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) have already been charged with electoral fraud. These include former Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield, former Deputy CEO Roxanne Myers, former PNCR Minister Volda Lawrence, and Mingo, among others.
Upon assuming office in August 2020, President Dr Irfaan Ali had promised to launch a CoI to identify the individuals responsible for the rigging attempts and pinpoint possible areas of weakness that could be used to guide the required strengthening of Guyana’s electoral system.