The United Workers Party (UWP) said it is disappointed in the outcome of a meeting held with the Electoral Commission to discuss efforts to achieve a free and fair general election in Dominica.
The party met with the Electoral Commission on Wednesday afternoon and said at a press conference on Thursday morning that although the meeting was generally successful, they were disappointed with the response of the commission on certain matters such as cleaning up of the voters’ list.
Deputy leader of the party, Claudius Sanford, explained that the party presented six major issues for discussion, including the cleansing of the voters’ list, the functioning of the registering officers in specific constituencies, the issuance of the multi-purpose ID cards and their use for voting in the upcoming general election, the importation of oversees voters, reviewing electoral laws and a public education drive.
“All these items were discussed thoroughly and we got some commitments on the part of the commission as it relates to public education,” he said, noting that there was agreement “in principle” in taking a look at the functioning of registering officers and the review of the electoral laws.
Sanford noted, however, that the party was particularly disappointed in the commission’s response to the other matters.
“It was very clear coming from the chairman of the commission that Dominicans will not be having a multi-purpose ID card for voting in the next general election,” he noted. “When questioned, the answer was we do not have the legal authority as is in our current law to ensure a total re-registration of voters.”
Sanford argued that Dominica should adopt the Antiguan model, which resulted in the total re-registering of voters in a matter of three months but apparently the commission gave the matter a cold shoulder.
“They said that it is going to take about two years to complete the issuance of the multi-purpose ID cards and I’m asking that there are models that we can look at such as the Antiguan model, the Jamaican model and they said that they have not looked at it,” he remarked.
He pointed out further that the Electoral Commission reported that they are not aware of bribes taking place in any general election and as such Sanford noted that he is suspicious of the commission’s operations as an independent entity under the Constitution.
In the meantime, Roseau South hopeful for the UWP, Joshua Francis, called on the Dominican public to rally with the party to promote a free and fair election.
“If we allow the electoral process to be contaminated what we will have is a distorted electoral result,” he said. “We want to ensure that every person who wants to elect a government does so freely and fairly so that it reflects his or her interest. Currently, there is a hunger for change in Dominica and Dominicans want to ensure when they cast their vote their vote reflects what they really want.”
He added that it is his belief that the party still stands a very good chance in the next election despite the “bloated” voters list.
“We want a fair, free and regular election but by no means are we dissuaded in our thinking that the people of Dominica will make the right decision and that is a decision in their interest, a decision to put away the gutter politics, politics of division, to the extent where they are encouraged to dislike one another,” Francis said.
According to the Electoral Office’s website, the Electoral Commission consists of the following:
-Gerald D. Burton – Chairman
-Kondwani Williams – Member
-Alick Lawrence – Member
-Mariette Warrington – Member
-Anthony Commodore – Member
-Steven La Rocque – Chief Elections Officer(Ag)