Election CoI: Equipped with evidence, Edgar Thomas denies claims he abandoned duties

Throughout the 2020 General and Regional Elections Commission of Inquiry (CoI), witnesses have claimed that Assistant Commissioner of Police Edgar Thomas was demoted for failing to be accessible to his superiors. However, Thomas is refuting these allegations and has even brought evidence.

Current Head of the Presidential Guard, Assistant Commissioner of Police Edgar Thomas testifying before the commission on Monday

During the resumption of the Election CoI proceedings on Monday, Assistant Commissioner of Police Edgar Thomas took the stand. He came prepared with a call log showing phone calls between his Police-issued phone number and his superiors on March 5, 2020.
The log and dates are important, since his superiors have testified at the CoI that Thomas was demoted because efforts to reach him on March 5, 2020 were futile. In particular, Police Commissioner Leslie James had given this as a factor in deciding to demote him.
However, Senior Counsel Sonia Chote pointed out that between March 5 and 6, 2020, there were 34 phone calls between Thomas and his superiors. Calls were also being made between Thomas and then Head of Special Branch, Nigel Hoppie.
“Maybe the Commissioner at that stage, is a stranger to the truth. The evidence before you indicate that I was in constant contact with administration of the Guyana Police Force, including the Commissioner. I have it here. I was in Brickdam, in my office, starting the day and communicating.”
“(That communication continued) until nine in the night, when the Commissioner refused to take my call. The evidence before you shows that I was in command, even at the time I was granting bail, which the Commander has the right to grant bail, to persons who allegedly committed any offense. I was in contact,” Thomas explained.
Former Commissioner James has testified that on March 5, there was total disorder at the Ashmins Building where votes were being counted for Region Four. He also testified that while he had contact with Thomas earlier in the day, there was a breakdown in that communication sometime around midday on March 5, 2020.
As a result, James said he had Thomas removed after not being able to get into contact with him – something which, he admitted, the Commander was unaware of. Thomas was relegated to patrol duties.
Both James and Former Deputy Police Commissioner Maxine Graham have testified that Thomas, who was in charge of Region Four, could not be readily contacted. In Graham’s case, she had testified that it was she who complained to James that she had been unable to reach Thomas on his cell phone throughout most of March 5, even while Ashmins Building was being overrun with persons.
Graham had said that when she subsequently got on to Thomas, he was in his office and she had ordered him to go to Ashmins. Graham claimed that following her complaint to James, the Commissioner told her to convey to Thomas that he would be relieved of his duties.
The CoI into the March 2020 General and Regional Elections is drawing nearer to a close. At the conclusion of the January 10 hearing, CoI Chairman, Retired Justice Stanley John had announced that they would resume on February 6. He had also noted that the CoI, which has been ongoing since November of last year, will hopefully wrap up by February 10.
While a number of damning testimonies have been given to the CoI, a number of key figures have refused to testify. They include former Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Data Clerk Enrique Livan, former Region Four Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo, former GECOM CEO Keith Lowenfield and former Minister of Health Volda Lawrence.
In addition to Lawrence and former Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Karen Cummings, the party’s Chief Scrutineer Carol Smith-Joseph, who is also facing electoral fraud charges, also opted not to give evidence after being summoned by the Commission.
The same position was adopted by several other GECOM employees who were called to testify before the CoI last December due to pending investigations and criminal charges against them. They cited Article 144 (7) of the Constitution of Guyana, which states: “No person who is tried for a criminal offence shall be compelled to give evidence at the trial.”(G3)