Attorney-at-law, Gildon Richards and businessman Michael Astaphan, who is a former leader of the Dominica Freedom Party (DFP), will represent the United Workers Party (UWP) at the national panel discussion on the electoral process to be held from 6:00 p.m today (Wednesday May 22, 2019) at the Goodwill Parish Hall.
This was confirmed to Dominica News Online (DNO) by President of the UWP, Senator Isaac Baptiste. He would not comment further on his party’s selection of representatives for the discussion.
The panel discussion is organized by The Electoral Commission in collaboration with the University of the West Indies Open Campus Dominica and the Dominica State College under the theme ‘The Electoral Process : The Way Forward’.
A release from the Electoral Commission which was issued recently, stated, “It is intended that panellists will include the Chairman of the Electoral Commission, as well as two representatives of the Government side of the House of Assembly and two representatives of the opposition side.”
The release added, “It is anticipated that the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Attorney General will represent the Government side.”
One of the primary objectives of the panel discussion, according to the release, “is to advance the Electoral Commission’s mandate to inform and educate the general public on electoral matters and it has proposed to have the event covered by multiple media houses to allow for maximum reach of the information presented at the event.”
The Commission stated that stakeholders from all sectors of the Dominican society would be invited to send representatives to sit in the audience and to participate in the discussions which will include Parliamentarians, members of the Executive, church and civil society groups, social clubs and academic organisations.
According to the Commission, the discussion will begin with an overview of the topic where each panelist will be provided a maximum of 15 minutes to make their presentation.
At the end of the presentations, persons in the audience, as well as listeners and viewers via electronic and social media, will be given the opportunity to present any questions to individuals, panelists, or to the entire panel.
In more recent release issued on Tuesday May 21, the Electoral Commission is encouraging “all persons to lay down, for a moment, any entrenched positions and openly, freely listen and on the basis of that, participate in the discourse via the radio, television and social media.”
The release goes on to state, “This process is too important to be examined with bias and we want to encourage doing so in an open forum that values the exchange of ideas on this issue.”
It adds, “We remain hopeful that representatives from both sides of parliament, as have been invited, will join the Chairman of the Electoral Commission in these important discussions.”