Political leader of the United Workers Party (UWP), Lennox Linton, is placing the blame for the lack of progress on electoral reform squarely at the feet of the ruling Dominica Labour Party (DLP).
He said the UWP has been calling for electoral reform since 2005 but the calls have fallen on deaf ears have cleverly been ignored by the DLP.
“Since May 2005, the UWP has been calling for electoral reform along the lines of recommendations made the Chief Elections Officer and the internationally recognized observer missions,” he said.
The leaders of both parties have been blaming each other for the lack of progress on electoral reform on the island.
Just last week, Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit and his deputy, Reginald Austrie, said the UWP is to be blamed. Skerrit said when the DLP took a bill to parliament to do just what the opposition and others have been calling for, in terms of electoral reform, the parliament building and the police were stoned by protesters.
In reality, this never happened although protests were held in opposition to matters that were being tabled by the government including amendments to the House of Assembly (Election) Act. The protesters said the amendments would legalize treating and bribery, which are electoral offenses in Dominica. Debate on the matter was subsequently adjourned without further considerations.
According to Linton, since March 2008 the independent Electoral Commission which has the constitutional duty to ensure free and fair elections decided on electoral reform to protect elections from bribery, voter fraud, and other corrupt election practices.
“An advisor to the government, a senior counsel, called it madness and advised the Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit against electoral reform because it would tarnish his re-election legacy,” he stated. “I don’t tell stories, I speak truth, I speak facts.”
He said another senior counsel was “appointed to make sure the Electoral Commission did not achieve electoral reform as it promised in 2008.”
“So 10 years and two elections later, electoral reform has not happened,” he stated. “The observer mission of the OAS is not amused by that, the mission has said two years ago, quote: ‘the mission offers the following recommendations to further strengthen the electoral process in Dominica. It is important to point out that most of these recommendations made in 2014 were already made in 2009 by the election observer mission, however, the mission observed that virtually none of these issues were adequately addressed ahead of the 2014 elections. The mission therefore respectfully reiterate the need to implement them.'”
Linton stated that the ‘unreformed’ election system in Dominica has allowed the DLP to win elections through “bribery, cheating, abuse of the people’s money, and other acts of dishonesty.”
“This is our reality today,” he said.