Leader of the Dominica Freedom Party (DFP) Kent Vital is expressing disappointment with the manner in which the recently held panel discussion on Electoral Reform was organized.
The panel discussion was organized by the Electoral Commission, working in conjunction with the University of the West Indies Open Campus Dominica and the Dominica State College, on the theme “The Electoral Process : The Way Forward”.
One of the primary objectives of the panel discussion was to advance the Electoral Commission’s mandate to inform and educate the general public on electoral matters.s to allow for maximum reach of the information presented at the event.
“I do not think it really served a useful purpose because it wasn’t broad enough and it was not an honest attempt,” Vital told Dominica News Online (DNO) during an interview on Friday. “It was maybe an attempt to once again to try to maybe catch the opposition by surprise.”
He continued, “It turned out that the panel was just one where sitting parliamentarians spoke. So, to my mind, [it] did not involve all the views of our stakeholders; it did not involve the views of the community, of the unions, of other political parties like the Dominica Freedom Party.”
Vital stated that it would have been better to have a fuller range of representation than the limited set of stakeholders that were allowed to participate.
“If the government wants a truly genuine discussion, then let’s hear from the stakeholders,” he noted.
Vital called for respect for the existing law.
“Or if you want to suggest changes, then make the suggestions,” he pointed out. “They have not made the suggestions but are arguing things.”
“You are having a panel discussion; you are inviting particular persons but you didn’t clearly say to the public, don’t come,” he argued. “Obviously in a matter like that the public would be highly interested.”
Vital added, “If I am an honest government and I am having a panel discussion and there is space, first of all I would open it to the public…let persons come and let them experience it.”
He said he would make the event open and transparent and not restrict questions.
“I want people to participate,” Vital stated.
Vital said another area of disappointment for him was the large number of police present during the panel discussion and described as questionable, the number of police officers who appeared in camouflage and machine guns for the meeting.
“There is no justification for bringing machine guns,” he said.