Commissioner at the Electoral Commission, Hilary Shillingford, has strongly rebuffed a call by Attorney General, Levi Peter, for some members of the Commission to be removed for “bringing the Commission into disrepute” by publicly commenting on matters discussed at Commission meetings.
Peter said during the debate on the 2017/2018 National Budget, that this type of behaviour was “absolutely disgusting and unacceptable.”
“It cannot be right, Madam Speaker, for persons who have been appointed to the Electoral Commission, a body of the significance of the Electoral Commission, to be sitting on that body, and then leaving that body and going outside and discussing in public what takes place in that body…that behaviour is the behaviour that has to be condemned. In my humble opinion, those Commissioners, if they cannot conduct themselves in a proper way, they should be removed from the Commission,” the attorney general stated.
Although he did not mention their names, Peter was clearly referring to the two UWP appointees on the Electoral Commission, Wayne James and Hilary Shillingford, who have recently been publicly voicing their dissatisfaction with the manner in which the Electoral Commission is dealing with the matter of electoral reform.
Shillingford has dismissed Peter’s argument, saying that when he was sworn in by the President, he took no oath of secrecy to hold the position of Commissioner.
“When I was appointed and got sworn in by the president, I took no oath of secrecy to hold that position as a commissioner, I continued to make clear to the Commission at the Commission’s meeting that I will not be surrounded by any oath of secrecy and I am here to represent the business of the people,” he declared.
Shillingford stated that the Attorney General would realize if he was listening, that matters he (Shillingford) discussed outside the walls of the Commission bear no level of confidentiality, but are simply, issues of national interest.
“We speak about matters that have to do with the people of Dominica. If we are in a Commission where members of the Commission are supporting things that are against the interest of the public, are we supposed to just sit there and stomach it?” he asked.
Shillingford made it clear that he is not daunted by any call for his removal as no one can remove him from his position as a Commissioner.
“The Attorney General has asked to take us out; I hope he is not referring to any illegal means. So whatever pressures the AG or whoever is trying to bring, Lennox Linton cannot take me off the commission, I am not subject to any direction of Lennox Linton neither the Labour Party, nor the Chairman of the Commission,” Shillingford stated.
The outspoken Shillingford vowed to use his “independent” position to bring free and fair elections to the people of Dominica through electoral reform; this, he believes is his primary aim.
Wayne James, the other UWP appointee on the Electoral Commission, has also fervently refuted Peters’ call stating in a radio interview that his main purpose on the Commission was to serve the interest of the Dominican people.