A coalition of opposition political parties and civil society organisations, Friday said they planned to stage peaceful protests from next Thursday to stop the December 6 snap general election, insisting that no elections should be held in Dominica without electoral reform.
Former agriculture minister Athie Martin, who has been staging weekly protests here, told a news conference of the Electoral Reform Coalition (ERC) that while there were many options available to protestors, “I am suggesting if you are going to start this campaign, which we have agreed to start it must be a campaign to the finish.
“We must not stop until the desired outcome is obtained. The desired option comes in stages. If we can stop the nomination process that is stage one, if we can stop the actual election that is stage two.
“What is stage three, I leave it to your imagination that all I have to stay to that,” he told reporters.
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, who last Sunday, shocked the nation by announcing the snap poll two years ahead of the constitutional deadline, has already warned that his ruling Dominica Labour Party (DLP) government will not tolerate any violence in the campaign.
“…that nonsense they did last election, blocking streets and burning streets, let me say to them that we will not sit down and take that nonsense again in Dominica.
“That nonsense will not happen in our country. This lawless behaviour, the government will not accept it from these people. You fight elections with policies, programmes and ideas, not blocking streets and burning streets. It is not going to happen again and if it happens we will deal with it according to the laws of the Commonwealth of Dominica,” Skerrit said.
The Concerned Citizens Movement of Dominica (CCM) said it was joining the main opposition United Workers Party (UWP) and the Dominica Freedom Party (DFP) in urging citizens to boycott the elections until Sir Dennis Byron, the former president of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) completes his assignment as the sole commissioner advancing the efforts towards electoral reform.
Sir 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.
Sir Dennis 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.
“Phase I will deal with the Registration of Electors and Phase II with the Election Process,” Sir Denis wrote in the letter a copy of which had been obtained by the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC), adding “I am in the final stage of the Phase I report”. regarding electoral reform here.
In a statement read out at the news conference, the CCM said that it was taking the opportunity to “re-affirm our unity with the opposition political parties and civil society organisations who are opposed to the holding of general elections on 6th December, 2022 based on a fraudulent and bloated voters list in the absence of electoral reform.
‘We the members of the CCM fully support and endorse the call for postponing the holding of general elections on 6th December 2022 in the absence of electoral reform,” the statement said, calling on President Charles savarin to “reconsider” his decision to issue the writ for the poll.
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.