The Opposition United Workers Party will be holding what it describes as a ‘public meeting’ in Roseau on Monday morning as the controversy regarding the election of a new president for Dominica continues.
“We will be gathering as close to parliament as possible to indicate to the authorities that the Constitution must be respected,” Political Leader of the the UWP, Edison James, told Dominica News Online. “We will see what comes out of it.”
Last week Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit made it clear that Dominica will have a new president by Monday, September 17 despite the fact that the UWP has insisted that the nomination process was unconstitutional.
James said the acting commissioner of Police, Daniel Carbon, had written to the UWP concerning provisions in the Public Order Act which states that permission must be granted for the holding of a public procession.
The Public Order Act, which became law on May 13th, 1954 states that anyone who desires to hold a “public procession” must seek permission from the Police Commissioner at least three days before the event is held. If permission is not sought, the event is deemed unlawful.
The Act describes a “public procession” as “any march, demonstration or procession in a public place.”
James said he replied to the acting commissioner but according to him the UWP doesn’t need permission since it will be holding a ‘public meeting’ not a ‘public procession.’
“I told him we will be holding a public meeting and we look forward to the cooperation of the police,” James said. “We don’t need permission for a public meeting because we won’t be having a point of departure or termination as in the case of a public procession.”
According to James the public meeting will begin at 9:00 am.
DNO understands that that section of Victoria Street from High Street to Turkey Lane, will be closed to vehicular traffic from 7:00 am on Monday. James says the new president is expected to be sworn in at 4:00 pm.
The government and the opposition have been at loggerheads since it was announced that the nation’s current president, Dr. Nicholas Liverpool, is to demit office early due to ill health. The government has nominated former public servant, Eluid Williams for the post.
The Opposition’s objection hinges on their position that no vacancy has been declared in the office of the President since the President has not submitted his letter of resignation in writing to the Speaker as required under section 119 of the constitution.
The Prime Minister and Speaker of the House have been strongly criticized by certain members of the public, including some Dominican attorneys, for the process they’ve employed in selecting a new president.
One of those critics, retired Ag.Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, Sir Brian Alleyne, has stated that while he has high regard for the Government’s nominee, Eluid Williams, he could not accept his election as president because of the constitutionally flawed process being used to elect Williams.
Prime Minister Skerrit maintains that there’s nothing constitutionally wrong with the process and his decision is based on the Doctrine of Necessity as advised by his Attorney General.
The Doctrine of Necessity is defined by Wikipedia as “the basis on which extra-legal actions by state actors, which are designed to restore order, are found to be constitutional.”