The leader of the Dominica Labour Party (DLP), Roosevelt Skerrit, has said that the just-concluded general election which produced another win for his party, was free and fair, but he has also promised to set up a commission for electoral reform which was one of the most contentious issues of the election campaign.
“The national general elections were conducted under laws that have governed elections in this country in the forty-one years since independence,” Skerrit stated in an address to the nation on Friday night. “The people of the Commonwealth of Dominica have spoken and I want to thank them for giving the Dominica Labour party a resounding victory and returning us to office for another term as the next government.”
The preliminary results from the Electoral Office give the DLP an 18-3 victory in the December 6 elections. The final count was done on Saturday, December 7 and an Electoral Office official told Dominica News Online (DNO) that the final official results will be released on Monday.
Skerrit congratulated all incoming parliamentary representatives, in particular, the newcomers and said he looked forward to working with them.
Pointing to what he referred to as the “bruising nature” of the election campaign, the DLP leader thanked all those who voted and added that in so doing, demonstrated that democracy is alive and well.
“It was Labour’s contention from the outset, that the ballot box is the fair and legitimate expression of what the people want,” Skerrit stated. “It was always Labour’s choice over the divisive rhetoric and actions which put nationals in fear, harmed our social fabric, our economy and our international reputation. Our citizens have made their choice. We must all now respect that.”
The prime minister accused the opposition United Workers Party (UWP) of creating an atmosphere of fear and intimidation during the course of the election campaign which he said could have caused many Dominicans to stay at home.
“But Dominicans have once again shown tremendous courage, determination and resilience in the face of all the odds,” Skerrit continued. “They turned out in large numbers to show their dissatisfaction with the opposition party.”
Skerrit acknowledged that there is a lot of hard work ahead for his new government.
“There is no doubt that there now social rifts, economic damage and reputational concerns which have to be addressed as a matter of urgency. This will be the first order of business for the new Labour party government,” he said. “In that regard, I will be shortly naming my cabinet so that we can immediately set out to rebuilding from the reputational damage and repairing the hurts of the last few weeks. ”
Although he did not elaborate, it is believed that Skerrit’s “economic damage and reputational concerns” have to do with some reported economic fall out from opposition protests just prior to the elections and the negative publicity which Dominica received from an Aljazeera TV documentary in which it was alleged that Skerrit exchanged Dominica’s diplomatic passports for money.
The prime minister also said he intended to set up a national commission on electoral reform to be led by a renowned regional jurist.
“The work of that commission added to all the previous consultancies and electoral reports from various international organizations, together with the decision of the courts, will inform the shape of Dominica’s electoral reform,” he explained. “Public hearings will be held throughout the country and all Dominicans will be able to appear before the commission and give their views.”
Skerrit added that provisions will be made for anonymous submissions as well as for an open discussion forum on social media sites. He said this will be one of the priority items of the agenda for the first one hundred days of the new DLP administration.
He said he was also looking forward to inviting United Workers Party (UWP) leader, leader, Lennox Linton, to early discussions, “as we all seek to unite the nation.”
The full address of Prime Minister Skerrit can be viewed below.