President advises Parliament on opposition’s absence

President of Dominica, His Excellency Dr. Nicholas J.O Liverpool/Photo

The President of Dominica, His Excellency Dr. Nicholas J.O Liverpool, has advised Government parliamentarians to take extra care in their deliberations at the House of Assembly in light of the absence of opposition members.

In his address to the opening of the House of Assembly this morning, President Liverpool said an additional burden is now on Government Parliamentarians because of the United Workers Party boycott.

According to H.E Liverpool, the opposition leader’s responsibilities allow for the prime minister to consult with him on national matters such as constitutional change, electoral reform, territorial integrity, environmental protection and climate change, and regional and sub-regional integration.

“However, if an occasion arises when a person is both qualified and willing to accept appointments as leader of the opposition, the constitution empowers the president to act in his own deliberate judgment on any matter in which he is required to act on the advice of, or after consultation with, the leader of the opposition,” he noted.

“Since there is no leader of the opposition and the elected members who do not support the Government have not yet taken their seats, this places an additional burden on you the honourable members here today to be scrupulous in your conduct of the proceedings of this chamber, and to always bear in mind that the population would expect of you an even greater sense of magnanimity, responsibility and good judgment than would otherwise prevail,” President Liverpool noted.

Meanwhile, the president addressed public concern that the DLP’s three quarters majority in Parliament may pose a potential risk to the Constitution. According to him, the issue was dealt with clearly and extensively in the report of the Constitutional Review Commission of February 1999.

That document states that a Bill to amend a relevant provision of the constitution cannot be passed in the House of Assembly unless supported by the votes of not less than two thirds of the elected members of the House. A Bill to be passed in the House should be read three times, according to the law.

“Additionally there must be an interval of not less than 90 days between the introduction of the Bill in the House and the beginning of the proceedings of the second reading of the Bill,” the President cited from the report.

He said other sections which protect many areas of the constitution are fundamental rights and freedoms, the institution of the presidency, the composition of Parliament, the electoral commission, the power of parliament to make laws, the method of enacting Bills to law and the frequency sessions of Parliament, among other areas.

President Liverpool also clarified that the Bill to amend must be supported by three quarters of elected members of the House of Assembly, and before the president signs the Bill it must be approved for referendum.

“It should be noted that the constitution itself was not subjected to ratification by the people of Dominica by way of referendum. It was a compact agreed by the acknowledged political representatives of the people acting on their behalf,” His Excellency stated.

“It is important that the passage of bills to amend the constitution should be made more difficult than the passage of ordinary bills. The constitution is the supreme law of the land, usually adopted after detailed discretion, and so serious consideration should be given before changes are made. For that reason special majorities are absolutely necessary. Also necessary is ensuring that a reasonable period elapses between the original presentation of the Bill and the start of the debate,” he explained.

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  1. an old friend
    February 21, 2010

    I have had the deepest respect for the President since our student days. His recent comment has been both thoughtful and perceptive, giving me even more cause to respect his undoubted integrity.

  2. ALBERT P.
    February 5, 2010



  3. February 5, 2010
  4. February 5, 2010

    So few Comments??? Anything involving Serious thought and work gets No Attention in the Commonwealth of Dominica.

    Shouts of Labour Power and Criticism of the PM and other political figures are expressed with such passion and vigor that you’d expect Dominicans to have a clue or good reason for their passion or commitment.

    All the loud shouters and commentators should go to the governments website and download the constitution here

    and stop being so ignorant of the REAL SERIOUS MATTERS!

  5. plebeian free thought
    February 5, 2010

    well said.

  6. CaCa Chien
    February 5, 2010

    i believe that the peoples of Dominica every section of the constitution if needed change the Government would first discus it with the peoples
    and continue informing the peoples in their usual town hall meeting
    lets’ not try to get ahead of our-self here

  7. LCM
    February 5, 2010

    The reason why people so quiet is because 90% of dominicans aint even know what the constitution look like. As i have said before it should be taught from primary schools to high schools.

    Yes its true that it is hard to change or amend the constitution. However, the fact that the DLP has the required majority in parliament makes it a possibility better than before.

    The fact is many of those MP do not .. the constitution independently so they themselves would not debate. Did you listen to the member for the cottage constituency Speeches during the campaign. Tell me what .. he going to contribute.

  8. Celus
    February 5, 2010

    It seems like the true state of affairs were not divulged to dominicans before the elections.That’s classic bait and switch.We need some good reporters to hold the govt responsible to the citizens of dominica.It doesn’t mean that they may doing anything wrong, but all the same, we need to have more transparency in govt.

  9. February 4, 2010

    Thanks for the enlightenment His Excellency. This gentle is a noble man of sound knowledge and character.

  10. Thoughtful
    February 4, 2010

    Very wise words Mr. President. Our constitution is safe despite the massive Labor majority and despite the fact that some people are saying that the Labor Party will use their majority to “play around” with it (the Constitution).

  11. Mahaut People
    February 4, 2010

    FBD you are entitled to your opinion but you should not attempt to smear the president or even try to disrespect him .The gentleman is a scholar and he knows what he is talking about . Sorry if you misunderstood what was said.

  12. wow
    February 4, 2010

    surprised there arent any comments, dominicans ignoring the wise words of his excellency cause only politics they know is colors…/ how sad. His words are actually significant since laws could be past that could put dominica further behind… sad

  13. February 4, 2010

    To the people of DOMINICA election is over the problem you have confronting you today are DEMOCRACY and the CONSTITUTION stop the politic get a copy and study it .

  14. Fbd
    February 4, 2010

    Just talk and no substance – The president knows that full well !

  15. Neg Lawi
    February 4, 2010

    Every body gone quiet…..

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