SOME readers of astrology familiar with the concept of “mercury in retrograde” might be better placed to understand, hopefully, the level of confusion and miscommunication emanating from the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) camp. It certainly must be a cosmic anomaly that would result in opposition political actors misreading and therefore attempting to mislead right-thinking people about the events connected with and being part of the General and Regional Elections (GREs) in 2020.
For clarity, Section 2 of the Commissions of Inquiry Act gives the President the lawful authority to appoint commissioner(s) to investigate any matter which the President deems is in the interest of public welfare. It is no secret that the events surrounding the 2020 GREs is an issue that threatened Guyana’s regional and international image as a functioning democracy, as the very institutions charged with preserving democratic values were publicly attacked by agents demanding a particular result.
Additionally, it should be recorded that some of those events are currently before the courts at every level of the hierarchy of courts. There are, additionally, other events which for public and historical record, must be properly contextualised so that the country avoids that pitfall in 2025 which plagued one of the most sacred processes of any state in modern times.
With known affiliates of the political opposition being the subject of those ongoing judicial inquiries, one could deduce that any inquiry into the 2020 events, such as the one authorised by President Irfaan Ali, would attract attacks from the APNU+AFC.
The elections commission of inquiry, like any inquiry, is a learning process simultaneously aimed at strengthening the electoral mechanisms of the country. Section 2 of the gazetted order establishing the terms of the inquiry allows the body to report to the President any “recommendations as the commission deems fit and necessary to permit the Guyana Elections Commission to discharge its statutory functions as prescribed by sections 84-89, 96-97 of the Representation of the People Act, Chap. 1:03, in a manner which is impartial, fair and compliant with the constitution and relevant legislation and to make any other recommendations which the commission deems appropriate, having regard to the law and to any evidence which may be presented.”
Any reasonable-thinking observer would view the work of this commission of inquiry as complementary, not usurping, of the elections machinery in Guyana. There is no avoiding that the national elections laws and procedures need strengthening. Much of that work has already begun and is ongoing. What has to be ensured simultaneously is that the motivations of the persons we put in charge of our elections processes must be pure and in line with the oaths of office sworn.
Additionally, where there have been allegations of agents deviating from those publicly-sworn commitments, the country must now chart a course forward. A panel of competent commissioners has been appointed to, no doubt, support that way forward by first helping to answer the questions that must be answered.
Recognising the correlation between unwavering democratic values and a prosperous society, a country that is on such a development trajectory as Guyana must have strong, well-functioning institutions which preserve the peace and stability of the nation and, in turn, ensure the uninterrupted growth of the country and well-being of its people. What transpired in 2020 must never happen again.