IN order to reform any proposed system, you must first inquire as to what are the defects of the existing system. It is within this context that a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) should be established to review all aspects of the March 2, 2020 elections.
The European Union Observer Mission recent calls to urgently address electoral reform brings into the focus the promise made by H.E. President Irfan Ali at his inauguration speech when he so eloquently and ardently proclaimed the following: “All of us are painfully aware of the trauma and anguish that our people endured over the past five months as vigorous attempts were made to destroy our democratic credentials, and deny the will of the electorate. All of us have an obligation to the nation and to ourselves to ensure that never again should any generation of our people be subjected to such unlawful behaviour. Therefore, a review of events – related to the electoral process over the last five months will begin shortly in order to determine, forensically, exactly what transpired, and to hold accountable any persons who sought to pervert and corrupt the system. More importantly, we will pursue the necessary reforms to make our democracy stronger and our electoral process more transparent.”
A CoI into the events of the March 2, 2020 elections should be commissioned by the President as promised and should comprise of at least three distinguished officers from the Commonwealth that have extensive experience with various electoral processes.
The scope and ambit of the CoI should encompass events prior to election day, on the election day and happenings after the fateful election day.
Diligent enquiries should be made but not limited to the following areas:
The appointment of the Chairman of the elections commission and overall hiring of GECOM secretariat and day-to-day personnel; review of all manuals and standard operating procedures as it relates to registration, voting, statement of polls, ballot boxes etc; selection process for returning officers, polling staff, district and regional officials; distribution of ballots and voting on election day; counting of the votes after close of polls and transmission of results to GECOM headquarters; tabulating and declaration of results with special emphasis on Region Four; conduct or misconduct of GECOM secretariat in the declaration of the final results of the election; review of the performance or lack thereof by the Chairman of the GECOM; whether the attempts at subverting the elections were systemic in nature or was it the premeditated manipulation by select individuals; and recommendations on electoral reforms.
As was stressed by the European Mission, we should begin the process now in order to have sufficient time to reach a consensus on the reforms for the 2025 elections and to hold those who tried to pervert the system accountable.