President and Electoral Commission Chairman blamed for the political crisis in Dominica
Severin McKenzie of the Electoral Reform Effort Group has put the blame for the political crisis in Dominica, squarely on the shoulders of the President of the Commonwealth of Dominica, Charles Savarin and the Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Gerald Burton.
The Electoral Reform Effort Group comprises representatives of the business sector, churches and other organizations in Dominica.
“It is two men in Dominica today who have the situation on their hands and they will be held responsible for any type of disintegration of this process in Dominica,” Savarin stated.
He contends that President Savarin has the authority to delay the election so that the process can take place and the Chairman of the Electoral Commission with support and approval of two other members of the commission can write to the President informing him (President) that they will need more time to clean the voters list and issue voters ID cards. “that’s as simple as this, simple!”.
“The Electoral Commission and more specifically the Chairman of the Commission and the President of Dominica, are the two authorities responsible right now to determine as to whether this disintegrates into chaos and civil unrest, or whether the people of Dominica are given an opportunity to have free and fair election, for the next five years political cycle,” Mckenzie asserted.
He insisted that Prime Minister Skerrit should not be involved in influencing, in any way, the electoral process.
“The Prime Minister is, in fact, a participant of the process, hoping to benefit from the result; so, which means that Prime Minister has absolutely no authority in what is happening with electoral reform at this time,” Mckenzie explained. “He can get all the support that he’s getting from Caricom, Alba and from where ever he getting it, but he is just an active participant just as the opposition. We cannot depend on the Prime Minister to be the one to make any decisions for us.”
He suggests that the prime minister should, “in fact, let the public know that he is not interfering with the process and allow the President of the Commonwealth of Dominica, who is the one who has the authority to postpone the election, at least since the House (Parliament) was dissolved, and the Chairman of the Electoral Commission who is supposed to be the independent person”.
President Charles Savarin has been meeting with various groups to discuss their roles in maintaining peace and tranquillity during the elections season and the matter of electoral reform has featured been raised at these meetings. So far he has had separate meetings with the Dominica Labour Party and the United Workers Party. He also met with the Bar Association, the Dominica Association of Evangelical Churches, jointly with representatives of the business community, among others.
The Electoral Reform Effort Group has since written to the President requesting a meeting with him.
When asked at a news conference earlier this week why should they want to meet with President Savarin since he has so far not indicated any willingness to facilitate electoral reform before the general election can be held, a member of the Electoral Reform Effort Group, Randy Rodneresponded?
“We are operating under the advice that we seek peace. Peace in conflict resolution is giving what you have. Every one of us has to give something but governance is not willing to give anything. You can’t resolve any conflict if you are not willing to compromise”, Randy Rodney.
UWP leader, Lennox Linton, after meeting the President last week told the media that electoral reform matter was being taken to court.
The United Workers Party has also written to the Electoral Office complaining about the inability of the Office to consider some 1300 objections it has made concerning names on the voting register.
The Electoral Office has since issued a statement indicating that no further amendments will be made before the December 6 elections, to the register of electors which, according to reports, contains over 74,000 voters.
President Savarin told the media group with which he met on Wednesday that he has received no indication from the Electoral Office that it is not ready to conduct the elections.