Probe into 2020 elections: GECOM votes to release documents submitted by APNU/AFC in attempt to discredit voters’ list

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Justice Claudette Singh

…as Opposition Commissioners attempt to block release

The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has voted to release documents requested by Attorney General Anil Nandlall, SC, to investigate Opposition claims of rigging at the 2020 elections, notwithstanding efforts by the Opposition-nominated Commissioners to block this.

The matter came up for a vote at GECOM’s statutory meeting on Tuesday, during which the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) nominated Commissioners vehemently objected to the release of the documents.

According to People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) nominated Commissioner Manoj Narayan, the Opposition’s objections to the release of the documents were premised on reasons that include their claims that the information in the documents are contained in the election petition. According to Narayan, the Government side argued that this was not true.

People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) nominated Commissioner Manoj Narayan

Narayan said that the Opposition Commissioners also advanced the argument that GECOM is a constitutional agency and does not have to release the documents. However, Narayan noted that the Commission, as custodians of the requested documents, had no issue with cooperating with a State agency.

“The Commissioners who were appointed by the now Opposition, they were all against it. They voted against it. They did not want any of those documents to be released to the Attorney General, even though on the other side (we) argued that in the interest of fairness and transparency, we need to release those documents as requested,” Narayan said.

According to Narayan, GECOM Chair, Retired Justice Claudette Singh voted in favour of releasing the documents. As such, he explained that the documents will be released as soon as possible.

The Opposition nominated GECOM Commissioners are Vincent Alexander, Charles Corbin and Desmond Trotman, while on the Government side sits Narayan, Sase Gunraj and Clement Rohee.

Private information

Last week, Nandlall had written GECOM seeking information on how private citizens’ data was provided to it by the then ruling APNU/AFC during the controversial 2020 General and Regional Elections.

It is a first step in the direction of an investigation that the AG had previously announced would be held into how immigration and registration data of citizens ended up in the hands of APNU/AFC; data it then submitted to GECOM in an effort to discredit the voters’ list.

According to his letter addressed to GECOM Chairperson, Retired Justice Claudette Singh, Nandlall noted that APNU/AFC delivered to GECOM, documents claiming to show that dead people and persons who were overseas on Election Day, voted at the elections, as well as documents to claim that there were cases of multiple voting.

Opposition-nominated Commissioners, Vincent Alexander, Charles Corbin and Desmond Trotman

“These allegations continue to be peddled in the public domain by leaders and representatives of the aforesaid political entity. At the time and until now, the impression conveyed is that these documents and/or data were generated by and obtained from the official lawful repository of the specific information, for example, the immigration department, the Guyana Police Force and the General Registrar’s Office.”

“It is important that the relevant State agency enquires into the source of this information, upon whose directions they were sourced and, perhaps, most importantly, to officially reconfirm their inaccuracy, for public record. In the circumstances, I hereby request a copy of these documents to initiate this process,” Nandlall wrote.

In a previous edition of his programme “Issues in the News”, Nandlall had pointed out that back in 2020, when APNU/AFC first made its erroneous claims, the PPP/C did investigations of its own. During its investigations, the PPP/C was able to find many of the persons that APNU/AFC claimed were out of the jurisdiction or dead.

In fact, at the time, many of these persons had come forward to protest against and dispute APNU/AFC’s claims. This publication published several such persons, who had been accused by the then ruling party of being either dead or out of the jurisdiction when their vote was recorded.