Statement by The Dominica Public Service Union (DPSU) on the Recent Pronouncement of a Snap Election in Dominica

LEGAL BUT IMMORAL

The Dominica Public Service Union (DPSU) represents a large segment of the Dominican workforce, in sectors that offer public services. The Union views the recent calling of a snap elections by the Prime Minister for December 6th, 2022, as an abuse in the exercise of his authority under the constitution to dissolve parliament and to call general elections, an affront on our democracy.

The pronouncement was made at a time when citizens of the Eastern Communities of Castle Bruce, Petite Soufriere, Good Hope, Tranto, Depas, parts of the Kalinago territory, Rosalie and Grand Fond were at the mercy of the force of nature, fighting for their lives. This action is viewed as being inhumane and morally unsound.

Further, this action by the Prime Minister undermines the spirit of our constitution and given the fact that following the last general elections held on December 6, 2019, the citizens of Dominica were given the undertaking that electoral reform would be implemented before the next general elections, constitutionally due April 2025. Failure therefore to undertake these reforms is not only disingenuous but also immoral.

 Additionally, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) report dated July 5, 2022 made the following observation under section 108; “However there remain areas of grave concern about how elections were conducted. Future elections in Dominica ought not to proceed with these or similar taints”

Ironically, the Union also notes that this statement by the Prime Minister was made on the exact day when the Opposition Leader and the Electoral Commission received a letter from Sir Dennis Byron clearly articulating a timeline of tasks for electoral reform.

It behooves us as a responsible public sector union, that there would be a rush to hold general election prior to the electoral commission undertaking the electoral reform and as outlined in Sir Byron’s Letter.

According to the CCJ’s report, ‘the electoral lists are central to legitimate and lawful elections.’ The DPSU fully concurs with that statement. Consequently, the Union believes that there is no excuse not to sanitize the voters list in keeping with existing legislation and as well as to provide citizens Voter ID Cards. The DPSU is of the view that no election should be held in Dominica prior to electoral reform.

The DPSU issues this caution in the wake of celebrating our independence under the theme “One Dominica, One People, One Vision” as this situation risk further dividing us as we face social, economic, and environmental challenges as a Small Island Developing State.

The Union wish again to reference the CCJs report and to quote accordingly Section 77 of the said report; “moreover, without such free and fair elections, the preambular value of the creation and maintenance of and respect for lawfully constituted authority would be fatally undermined. The Consequences of such a denial, that a reflection on Caribbean history demonstrates include, loss of legitimacy, public unrest, and even revolt. In contemporary terms free and fair elections are so fundamental to the democratic way of life, that without it the very legitimacy and sovereignty of the constitutional state is brought into question – constituted as is by, ‘the People of Dominica’. In this regard it is worth reminding ourselves: ‘The will of People shall be the basis of the authority (legitimacy) of government’. Consistent with this expressed view and the general support for electoral reform, the DPSU believes that a snap election is not in the best interest of Dominica.

Finally, efforts by the citizenry to include trade unions, private sector, faith based, and civil society and the wider citizenry in Dominica, should in good faith and conscience call attention to the need for electoral reform prior to any general elections should not be discouraged, such efforts are conducive to a healthy democracy.

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