The People’s National Congress Reform, (PNCR), which is the largest party in the APNU+AFC coalition, has raised questions about the planned Commission of Inquiry into the 2020 General Elections, while there is an active Elections Petition questioning the outcome of the elections still before the Courts.
During a press conference today, PNCR Executive Member Gary Best said the COI appears to be aimed at distracting people from the failures of the current government and allegations which were leveled against the Vice President. He said he also believes it is being convened to put a stumbling block in the way of the Elections petition.
“The PNCR, therefore, reiterates its call for a speedy and unhindered hearing of these elections petition via the judicial process that is far superior to that of a Commission of Inquiry. Further, there is no need for a parallel none binding process that has no judicial finality,” Best said.
The party is maintaining that any investigation outside of the elections petition must be conducted by GECOM, since it was the Elections Commission that conducted the elections and must be able to review where it went wrong and make adjustments where necessary.
“The PNCR, therefore, views the setting up of a Commission of inquiry as a clear attempt to hoodwink the Guyanese public by introducing a process which is of less judicial value than the elections petition. It is of importance to note also that the Commission of inquiry is not a court of law, our own Commission of Act allows for hearsay evidence, it allows for accusations of misconduct to be made without any built-in rules of natural justice or procedural fairness to safeguard the rights and interest of people who might be so affected,” Mr. Best pointed out.
Best opined that the Commission of Inquiry’s sole purpose could be to smear the reputation and characters of persons. He said the government’s intention to move ahead with the COI before the petition is ruled on smacks of judicial contempt.
Although the party is not supportive of the COI at this time, Mr. Best said the PNCR must be involved in the process to produce the Terms of Reference (TOR) of the COI.
“The party’s position is very clear is that we recognized the Commission of inquiry as an interference in the judicial process of the elections petition so for us, the fact that there is a Commission of Inquiry, which is under the hand of the President and at the same time the President’s party is to be investigated in the judicial process and the process of the COI to us that speaks to the fact that only one side would be preparing the evidentiary processes for the Commission of inquiry. So we therefore strongly suggest to the President and to the Commissioners that in the interest of fairness and justice, the government and Opposition should determine along with the Commissioners, what are these Terms of Reference, lest the entire process becomes another sham like the Su affair” Best posited.
President Irfaan Ali on Tuesday named the four members to serve on the Elections Commission of Inquiry. The President said the Commission will begin its work soon.