The Presidential Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the 2020 General and Regional Elections will commence public hearings in early November, according to the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall.
Speaking to News Source on the side-lines of the recommissioning ceremony of the Mibikuri Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, Mr. Nandlall said under the Commission of Inquiry Act, the Commission regulates its own process, however, he said he was informed that public hearings will commence in November.
“I am informed that the Commissioners have made a decision that they will begin hearing at the beginning of the month of November,” he told this publication.
He also explained that steps are being taken to set up a secretariat for the Commission of Inquiry.
“So, the Commission Secretariat is being established, a building had to have been identified, furnished, staff is being recruited, and a Secretariat is going to be functional by next week, and the work of the Commission will begin,” he said.
The high-level COI chaired by Retired Justice of Appeal of Trinidad and Tobago, Stanley John, was appointed on September 13, 2022 to inquire into certain events connected with and being part of the Regional and General Elections of 2020.
The other two Commissioners are former Chancellor (ag) of the Judiciary of Guyana, Justice Carl Singh and former Attorney General and Acting Justice of Appeal in the Eastern Caribbean, Justice Godfrey P. Smith.
According to a document published in the Official Gazette, the Commission is required to inquire into the circumstances and events leading up to, and the procedures following the Elections on March 2.
Special focus will be placed on the counting, ascertainment and tabulation of votes polled and the public declaration of those results by the Region Four Returning Officer, and other Election Officers as stipulated by the Representation of the People Act.
The Commission is also tasked with determining what attempts, if any, were made to obstruct, frustrate, subvert and prevent the counting, ascertainment and tabulation of votes polled and a declaration of the true results of Electoral District No. 4 as prescribed by the Law.
The Commission will also inquire into the conduct of the Chief Election Officer and other Election Officials.
At the end of the process, the Justice John-led Commission will submit its recommendations in a report to President Irfaan Ali.
The main opposition – the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) – has registered its non-support for the Commission on the basis that the matter is currently engaging the attention of the Courts in the form two Election Petitions.
Petitions, filed by opposition supporters, are challenging the validity of the results of the Elections.
Additionally, a number of election related cases are before the Magistrates’ Court.