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(DPI) The Presidential Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the events surrounding the March 2 General and Regional Elections and the events leading up to the declaration of the results, will resume public hearings on November 28, 2022.
Secretary of the COI, Javed Shaddick speaking to the Department of Public Information (DPI), on Friday related that the proceedings were paused to ensure that the commissioners digest information from the witnesses who would have testified.
Seven persons have testified so far, since the COI began its proceedings on November 4, 2022.
“As the evidence unfolds, you will find that you might need to call back witnesses to clarify stuff, you will need to maybe get more witnesses on a certain point as you go along, you find those things. So, that was a good point to pause, gather as much as we can and then during this period, we’ve been working, trying to speak to the witnesses who have passed, see if there is more information that they may have gotten because the process has now started so we’re now understanding more,” the Secretary explained.
Shaddick further noted that when the proceedings resume the COI will be able to go in depth into the testimonies where necessary.
Members of major political parties, local observers, as well as Guyana Elections Commission Officials are expected to take the stand when the hearings resume.
“What you would have noticed from the evidence and the witnesses that have come so far is that you will see a lot of small parties came forth…you would have not seen the major parties as yet and that will be something that we’re looking to get on this go-round, to get more of the parties who would have been there,” he added.
Shaddick reminded that this is a fact-finding exercise and no one should feel like their reputation will be harmed.
The COI is expected to complete the inquiry into the elections by January 2023 and, “So far, we are on track for the deadline,” Shaddick noted.
Meanwhile, the Administrator of the COI, Colonel Ronald Hercules told DPI that the security aspect of the process has been running smoothly, a commitment made at the start of the exercise.
“We promised to have a very secured environment so the witnesses can come forward and give their evidence, so during this period we have seen witnesses coming forward, they have given their evidence and statements in a very conducive environment, we had no breaches to security and we would continue in that vein,” Hercules said.
The joint services will continue to provide security during the sessions.
On September 13, the commissioners took their oaths of office before President Dr. Irfaan Ali. Retired Justice of Appeal of the Turks and Caicos Islands, Stanley John was sworn in as Chairman of the COI by President Ali.
Former High Court Judge and Acting Justice of Appeal in the Eastern Caribbean, Godfrey P Smith SC; and former Chair and Former Chancellor (ag), Carl Singh took are commissioners.
According to the Terms of Reference (ToRs), the COI is to inquire into the process of vote tabulations and the public declaration of election results by the Returning officer of District Number Four. In addition, the commission will be able to establish what attempts were made to subvert the results that prevented the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) from discharging its statutory functions as prescribed by law.
The Commission of Inquiry is also expected to examine the conduct of the Chief Elections Officer, other elections officers, and persons as it relates to the execution of their duties during the elections.