On Wednesday 31 May, concerned groups in Dominica gathered in the capital city for a rally on electoral reform. Represented were groups such as National Joint Action Movement (NJAM), Civic Vibes, the United Workers Party, the Dominica Freedom Party and the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM).
Persons addressed the rally detailing the history of calls for reform, the promises made by authorities, as well as the decisions by some to block reform and the inaction of the electoral commission in Dominica.
President of the United Workers Party, Lennox Linton addressed the rally and spoke in depth about the inaction of the present government to grant electoral reform that other caribbean countries enjoy.
He said that this government is not one working in the interest of its people but instead a gang working in the interest of foreign friends while Dominicans are left to suffer. Linton reminded listeners of those developers of the former Kempinski Hotel (now Intercontinental Hotel) who made 163 million dollars in passport money even before the hotel was operational. He said that they own the hotel, however Dominicans who live in apartment buildings built from passport money do not own the apartments.
He said, “We’re here today because when people take control of your system of elections, when they’re the ones that decide that they alone will be in government, then the people have a problem because government must always have the authority that comes from the will of the people”.
Linton explained that the power must always belong to the people who transfer that power to a group of persons to manage their affairs in government for a period of time.
He said, “It is not for any one individual or any gang to decide that the people should no longer have that right to choose their government. And that right to choose a government of the people, by the people and for the people with the majority vote of the conscience of the people has been taken away from the people by a gang that has hijacked the government of Dominica and it is time for us to change that state of affairs”.
Linton referenced that after years of advocacy for electoral reform, the decision of the electoral commission to clean up the voters list and the decision of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) who ruled that there should be no more elections in Dominica under the same tainted system; the Prime Minister determined that he wouldn’t budge on reform because it would destroy his re-election legacy. Linton explained that this means if the election system is fair, Prime Minister Skerrit agreed that the labour party would not win.
Linton said that in 2022, we were in the middle of an electoral reform exercise paid for by Dominica to Sir Dennis Byron. He proceeded to explain some of the issues found in the recommendations made by Sir Byron inclusive of the clause related to being ordinarily resident in Dominica to be a qualified voter.
Linton concluded by saying, “Beyond the 31st of May, Sir Dennis Byron and the government has until the 30th of June for Sir Dennis Byron to present his report to the government that employed him with our money. The government will have the month of July, a whole month, for the consultations to take place, for them to come to you the people of Dominica, because you are the bosses, you are in charge, for them to tell you what they intend to take to parliament. And then we will be giving the whole month of August for the legislation to go in place”.
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