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PNC, AFC in separate calls for consultations on election commission of inquiry

Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 June 2022, 16:40 by Denis Chabrol

The People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) , and the Alliance For Change (AFC) on Wednesday demanded that the government consults with them on the terms of reference of the 2020 election commission of inquiry, in an effort to secure broad-based acceptance.

“As the President has insisted on being a judge in his own cause, the PNCR demands that the government and opposition agree on finalising the terms of reference if only to reduce potential bias and expose the nation to the plethora of evidence of electoral malpractice by the PPP in the recently concluded 2020 general and regional elections,” PNCR Executive Member, Retired Rear Admiral Gary Best told a news conference.

Mr. Best said the PNC could very well dispatch a letter to the four-member Commission.

Both political parties said the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) should reconsider its majority position and instead conduct an internal review of the 2020 polls and rely on the election petitions whose fate depends on the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). “The Commission of Inquiry, any reasonable Guyanese, any reasonable person, will conclude; it is an interference because it is the lowest level of judicial authority and scrutiny,” he said.

The PNCR said the COI would amount to an “interference in the judicial process” and would permit a lot of hearsay evidence that could harm persons reputation but could not be used in the court.

Even if the PNCR does not get its way, Rear Admiral Best said his party would participate in the hearings and present its evidence and demonstrate that the APNU+AFC coalition and the PNCT did not commit an electoral offences and instead it was the now governing People’s Progressive Party (PPP).

The AFC

The AFC justified the need for GECOM to conduct an internal review to learn lessons by such a high-ranking constitutional agency which has received millions of dollars of public monies.  “The AFC would like to reiterate that the call for an internal institutional review was
directed to identify flaws and weaknesses in the system, operations, and human resources of GECOM,” the party said.

In echoing the PNCR’s call for  consultation on the Commission to probe the 2020 general and regional elections, the FC said such an exercise should focus on the make-up of the commission, the terms of reference and timeline for doing its works. “This
consultative, inclusive approach would certainly have engendered a modicum of acceptability and legitimacy of whatever final report it will produce, plus a participation in the Commission’s work by a greater number of Guyanese,” that party said in a statement.

The AFC said despite its misgivings about the process for establishing the COI, it hoped that the Commission do come up with a profound set of recommendations which will ensure that GECOM produces free, fair, and credible elections in future, and that its internal operations, system and human resources be examined thoroughly to identify flaws and weaknesses which it did not want to confront in that internal review. “This might assist GECOM in restoring its credibility, something the AFC wants to see happen as early as possible,”  that party said.

Although the COI might duplicate in certain areas with the petitions, the AFC cautioned that must not be used by the
Government or the the PPP to delay or displace these petitions in any way.