President of the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM), Loftus Durand, has expressed his disappointment at the “lie” he believes is being spread about the CCM’s attitude towards voters in the diaspora.
His comments follow the meeting of a Joint Special Mission made up of the CARICOM Secretariat (CARICOM), the Commonwealth Secretariat and the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (GS/OAS), to assist in the country’s efforts with various aspects of electoral reform. Over the weekend, the Mission met with principal stakeholders in Dominica’s electoral process, including the major political parties, electoral authorities, government authorities and members of civil society.
Speaking on Q95’s ‘Patriots on Q’, on Sunday, Durand indicated his belief that the government crafted a “falsehood” to give the Mission the impression that forces opposing the Dominica Labour Party (DLP) are against Dominicans in the diaspora returning home to vote.
“They gave these people the impression that CCM, the UWP, Freedom Party—whoever that is opposing this government… that it is these people who [don’t] want the people from overseas to come and vote. And to me, that is very deceptive. …We do not have a problem with our bon fide Dominicans living in China, living in New Zealand, living wherever they [are] living, to come and vote… So, to give these people that subtle deceptive impression that we don’t want overseas voters to come in to vote, that is very wrong. It is diabolical.”
Durand spoke favourably of the discussion, saying that it “went on well,” and called on the Dominican people to take action to effect change.
“Again, it all boils back to [us], the people,” he stated. “What are we prepared to do about situation in Dominica?”
Meantime, Political leader of the Dominica Freedom Party (DFP), Kent Vital, whose party also met with the meeting of the Joint Special Mission, stated that although he was grateful for the platform, he warned that the committee may be part of a “perverse” plot by the government to hinder electoral reform.
“So, one of the first things we said to them is that number one, you have to understand that…while we are glad that you’re here, you’re professional, hopefully, you’re unbiased and you can shed light, but you have to be aware that you may be brought here for the perverse reasons of the Prime Minister and this government. Perverse reasons in the sense, that they jolly well know that we may just be close to election, and time is running out, and as the Chairman of the [Electoral] Commission had already started to do, indicate that there is not enough time to do the reforms that we need,” he said, on Q95’s ‘Matt in the Morning’, on Monday. “They may just have brought you here so you could corroborate, or you could agree with them, and therefore, they could use it to say ‘we are not doing this’.”
The DFP leader insisted that the introduction of voter ID cards and the cleansing of the electoral list are of top priority.
However, given that elections are constitutionally due in 2020, Vital called for decisive action from the government.
“We advised them at the end, that the two most important things would be the cleansing of the list and the ID cards. We said to them that you can advise the government that within our laws, there is time, or you can advise them whether or not there is time to ensure that those things are done before elections… If for any reason, you happen to agree with the Prime Minister that there isn’t enough time, please note that that issue is so important that you have to consider other things; possibly, for instance, advising them— although they will not do it— that they resign, and that an interim government be set up, and that during that time, the list be cleansed. So, I said that to force them to understand how serious a matter this is.”
Subsequent to its meetings in Dominica, the Mission will present its recommendations in alignment with international electoral good practice for the consideration of the appropriate authorities.
In June 2019, Skerrit announced the initiative, describing it as a continued expression of the government’s efforts to ensure transparency and to provide a platform for the public to express their concerns about electoral reform in “a respectful and peaceful manner.”