With the Guyana Government already in talks with the international community regarding a forensic review of the events of the March 2 General and Regional Elections, President Dr Irfaan Ali has hinted at the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) soon.
“In relation to a timeframe in having the CoI, I would say that it is in the, not the medium-term, but the immediate-term plan for the Government as we proceed towards the end of the year…,” President Ali revealed during an exclusive interview with Guyana Times on Thursday.
According to the Head of State, there is great global interest in this initiative and as a result, he announced that the international community will play a key role in the impending CoI.
“We’ve already started conversation with various international stakeholders on the subject matter and the international community is also very much interested…the international community was a key part in ensuring that democracy was protected…so the international community is going to play a key part in this and they are very keen and they are very interested,” he explained.
President Ali recently revealed during an interview with Jamaica’s CEEN TV – “The Conversation” – that the panel for the CoI could be drawn from the Caribbean Community (Caricom), the Organisation of American States (OAS), and The Commonwealth.
“Between the OAS, Commonwealth and Caricom, I think we will have a great opportunity to determine a good panel to look at the CoI,” President Ali had explained.
In addition to the CoI, President Ali also pointed to the need for electoral and constitutional reforms to avoid a reoccurrence of what transpired during this year’s electoral process.
“We cannot continue to have an Elections Secretariat that conducts itself…in a way that the last Secretariat conducted itself, that damaged the international, local and regional credibility of our country, damaged our democracy and really set us back in terms of our development pathway…,” he posited.
President Ali had already explained that the process of reforms will be done through a consultative approach, which he indicated, will be embarked upon in due time.
Coming out of the reform process, the Head of State has a number of expectations regarding the operations of the Elections Secretariat.
“What is want to see is a transparent, professional, accountable Elections Secretariat…I want to see an Elections Secretariat that acts without fear or favour, that acts without bias, that is loyal to Guyana, that upholds the Constitution of Guyana, that upholds their Oath of Office, that is independent, and that delivers to the Guyanese people in a democratic, free and fair manner,” he explained.
Pointing out that to date, the APNU/AFC coalition has failed to release its Statements of Poll (SoPs) despite their claims that they have won the elections, President Ali posited that in the reforms of the Elections Body, “we have to look at a system where SoPs are shared as a matter of system, almost immediately all over the country”.
He also mentioned the issue of a clean voters’ list, but noted that such an exercise should only ideally be embarked upon when compromised elements are removed from the Elections Secretariat.
Already, there are criminal investigations being conducted by the Guyana Police Force into allegations of electoral fraud at the March 2 polls.
A number of top GECOM officials have been questioned including Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield and Deputy Chief Elections Officer Roxanne Myers, and in some cases, other officials have been hauled before the courts as in the case of Returning Officer for Region Four Clairmont Mingo.
In addition, Mingo and Lowenfield are facing private criminal charges in relation to their alleged roles in attempting to alter the results of the March 2 elections.
According to President Ali, those who attempted to undermine the will of the people must be held accountable.
“There’s a lot of people out there who want to see justice served, who want to see those who damaged our democracy, those who destroyed our credibility, those who put our country through those months of pain, that they are brought to justice,” he explained.
During his inauguration in August, President Ali had noted that his Government has an obligation to the nation to ensure that no other generation of Guyanese is subjected to such unlawful behaviour that transpired over the five months when the country was embroiled in a political and electoral impasse.