Dominicans urged to get involved in debate on electoral reform

Roseau – President Charles Savarin has urged Dominicans to get involved in the public discussions on electoral reform as Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit announced that he was hoping to hold a “last meeting” with prominent international jurist, Sir Dennis Byron, on Tuesday to further advance the efforts at modernisation of the electoral system.

Addressing the first sitting of the Dominica Parliament following the general elections last December in which Skerrit led his Dominica Labour Party (DLP) to victory in a poll boycotted by the main opposition parties over electoral reform, Savarin said that the process was now nearing its end.

“The issue of electoral reform has loomed over us for several election cycles. Government has played its part in facilitating this initiative through the provision of technical and financial support to the responsible authority and more recently the engagement of a prominent and high profile legal mind in the person of Sir Dennis Byron to review the existing electoral legislation and processes and to submit recommendations for reform”.

Savarin, who announced that he would be stepping down as head of state at the end of his second five-year-term in October, told legislators that he was urging them as well as the public at large “to acknowledge that the process is almost complete and to approach the consultations and debate on electoral reform from the point of view of ensuring that the rights of all eligible voters are protected”.

He said it was also necessary for persons to be “vigilant to ensure that the names of persons who are no longer eligible to be on the voters list in conformity with our existing laws are removed following due process.

“I look forward to the consultation on the report of Sir Dennis Byron on this matter. I have every confidence that the…issues of electoral reform will be given priority attention by this new administration”.
Savarin recalled that prime Minister Skerrit had given an undertaking that he would ensure “that all stakeholders including the Commonwealth Secretariat and the OAS (Organisation of American States) would be engaged in consultation to review the report and recommendations by Sir Dennis Byron and once and acceptable draft legislation is agreed upon on this matter, a bill will be brought before Parliament for its consideration.

“I take the Honourable Prime Minister at his word and look forward to this House bringing this matter to a close,” Savarin said.

Skerrit told the Parliament that his administration is committed to electoral modernisation even as a group of people gathered outside the legislative building to protest the slow pace of the reform. (CMC)



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