Roseau – The main opposition United Workers Party (UWP) on Tuesday said it had taken a decision not to contest the December 6 snap general election, saying it remains convinced that the electoral reform “as demanded by the Dominican population is needed to facilitate free and fair elections” in Dominica.
Nomination Day is set for November 18.
The party said that it was calling on President Charles Savarin “to revoke the calling of election by the Prime Minister,” who last Sunday announced the date for the polls three years after he led the ruling Dominica Labour Party (DLP) to a convincing 18-3 victory in the general election of 2019.
On Sunday also, the sole Commissioner to advance efforts towards electoral reform in Dominica, Sir Dennis Byron, had proposed presenting the first phase of his report by the end of November with the Parliament tabling the Register of Electors legislation in December and the plan to enact it in January 2023.
The UWP had demanded electoral reform ahead of the last general election, but the Skerrit administration said it had been stymied by Opposition legislators who refused to debate the necessary legislation needed to advance the electoral reform process.
The UWP tried to get the 2019 general elections postponed to February the following year on the grounds that there was need for electoral reform, more specifically the issuances of picture identification cards and a cleansing of the voters’ list.
Sir Dennis, a former president of the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), had written to Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, as well as the Opposition Leader, Lennox Linton, indicating that he was “working towards expediting the presentation of my Recommendations for the improvement of the Electoral Process in the Commonwealth of Dominica”.
In the November 6 letter, which was also sent to the leader of the United Workers Party (UWP) and copied to the chairman of the Electoral Commission, Duncan Stowe, the prominent international jurist with over 50 years of judicial and related experience, explained also that he would be presenting the report in two phases.
In a statement, the UWP said it views with “disappointment and dismay” the pronouncement by the Prime Minister to hold a “snap” general election, saying “this call for national elections is seen as an outrage to all Dominicans, especially the residents of the east of the country who were reeling under the impact of a natural disaster.
“On the night when the country was expected to hear the Prime Minister lead the call to support those affected, Mr. Skerrit decided to place his personal interest ahead of the country. This announcement must be condemned by all Dominicans as an affront to our democracy and an insult to our people. “Dominicans cannot be asked at this time to participate in another national election without meeting at least two basic election standards (namely) a clean Voters List reflecting the persons who can legally vote; and National ID Cards available to all the legitimate voters.”
The UWP said that the CCJ, which is Dominica’s final court, had in a written decision noted “in its opinion…there remains areas of grave concerns about how the process of these elections (2019 General Elections) was conducted. Future Elections in Dominica ought not to proceed with these or similar taints…” (CMC)