Efforts being made to speed up process as work ongoing on ToR for election CoI

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall

Work is continuing to finalise the Terms of Reference (ToR) for the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the March 2020 General and Regional elections. In fact, Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister, Anil Nandlall said that efforts are being made to speed up the process.

In an interview with this publication, Nandlall explained that work is ongoing on the ToR that will govern the commissioners, who were named by President Dr Irfaan Ali back in June of this year.

“The formulation of the Terms of Reference of the CoI, the negotiations in relation to the terms and conditions of the members of the CoI, are all work in progress. Hopefully, we are able to resolve those preparatory, but fundamental matters early, so that the business of the commission can begin to proceed,” the AG explained.

“We are dealing with persons who are at different locations. And the terms of reference have some technicalities attached to it. And care has to be exercised in ensuring that the terms of reference are what is required and at the same time, it does not infringe on other processes currently ongoing. What I can tell you, is every effort is being made to have the process move with alacrity.”

The CoI will be chaired by Justice of Appeal (retired) Stanley John of the Turks and Caicos Islands. The other members are former Attorney General, High Court Judge, and acting Justice of Appeal in the Eastern Caribbean, Justice Godfrey P Smith, SC; former Chair and Chief Elections Commissioner of India, Dr S Y Quraishi; and former acting Chancellor of Guyana’s Judiciary, Justice Carl Singh.

Additionally, it has been noted that former Chief Election Commissioner of India, Dr Nasim Zaidi; and Ghanian Election Administrator Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, who was appointed a Commonwealth Advisor to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) leading up to the 2020 elections, will both serve as resource personnel to the CoI.

Each has a track record of distinguished adjudication while leading major reforms and innovation to achieve efficiency in the business of resolving disputes.

Godfrey Phillip Smith, SC, has also served as Minister of Tourism & National Emergency Management, Minister of Foreign Affairs & Foreign Trade, Attorney General & Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Chief of Staff of the Office of the Prime Minister of Belize, and a Member of the House of Representatives.

Among the numerous posts Dr Quraishi has held were: Chief Election Commissioner of India, July 2010 – June 2012, Election Commissioner of India, June 2006 – July 2010 and Secretary, Govt of India Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, 2005 – 2006. He is also credited for founding the India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management, from which more than 75 countries have received training within five years.

More recently, he was a member of the Board of Advisors of International IDEA (Institute of Democracy and Electoral Assistance) Stockholm for 9 years (2012-2021). Dr Quraishi was nominated to be a Global Ambassador of Democracy alongside Kofi Annan by International IDEA Stockholm in Oct 2018.

Lastly, retired Chancellor Carl Singh has held several key positions following his admission to the Bar in 1982. He fulfilled the roles of Magistrate – 1983, Land Court Judge – 1988, High Court Judge – 1995, and Court of Appeal – 2000. In 2001, Retired Chancellor (ag) Carl Singh was appointed Chief Justice, and from 2005-2017 he served as acting Chancellor of the Judiciary.

The retired Chancellor (ag) also served as the Chairman of the Advisory Council to the President of Guyana on National Honours from 2005-2017. From 2017-2019, he served as a Professor of Law and Head of the Department of Law, University of Guyana.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 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.