The United Workers Party (UWP) called upon the Prime Minister to “immediately” bring forward legislation, agreed upon by the Electoral Commission, to the Parliament of Dominica to enable it to become law.
At a press conference held on Friday at the Dominica Public Service Union (DPSU), Leader of the UWP, Thomson Fontaine said it has been more than three years since the Prime Minister of Dominica made a solemn promise to the people of Dominica that he would push through reform legislation.
“The United Workers Party, therefore, calls upon the Prime Minister of Dominica to immediately bring forward legislation, which has been agreed upon by the Electoral Commission, to the Parliament of Dominica to enable it to become law,” he said.
“Upon the finalization of the electoral reform laws, we call upon the Electoral Commission to immediately begin the process of undertaking the reforms including a full and complete reregistration process and the issuing of voter I.D. cards.”
Fontaine stated once this process is complete, the United Workers Party and the people of Dominica demand fresh general elections in order to reverse the damaging impact of the ‘sham’ December 2022 elections.
Fontaine made the following recommendations to the government of Dominica:
“Immediately pass legislation for electoral reforms and begin the process of reregistration and the issuing of voter I.D cards to be followed by the holding of fresh general elections, and address the ongoing problem of unemployment particularly among the youth of our country through creative job opportunities, and the rebuilding of our Agriculture sector.”
The party asked that adequate financial support be provided as promised to the students studying overseas on government scholarships and that the Dominica State College be re-established as a premier learning institution.
Tackling the growing violence and crime on the island was also on the agenda, with a call for increased police training and a commitment to fight and prevent crime.
“Reduce the size of the Cabinet by at least two-thirds, and cut other wasteful government spending and address the many problems within the court system with a view to improving the system of justice in the country,” he asserted.
Meantime, former leader of the UWP, Lennox Linton released a draft entitled “The registration of electors acts; registration of elections regulations 2023″ by Sir Dennis Byron.
At the press meeting, Linton read an email received from Sir Byron on November 6, 2022, where he stated Sir Byron assured him that he is working towards expediting the presentations of recommendations concerning the improvement of the electoral process in Dominica.
Linton also revealed that Sir Bryon indicated to him via this email that the draft is not to be published when it is sent to him. Linton was warned that it should not be presented to the public and was told that publication should be the responsibility of the Honorable Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit.
“These drafts should not be presented to the public and publication should be the responsibility of the Honorable Prime Minister only after he made formal presentation to him of my reports, ” Linton read.
Linton noted that no report has been released by Sir Byron since he received the email.
He went on to say that since he has not received the draft from Sir Byron, but from another source, he is under no obligation to Byron not to disclose the information.
Linton further outlined that Sir Byron’s proposals as to the timelines going forward are as follows, 1- ‘Phase 1’ report will be presented by Sir Byron during the month of November 2022; 2- Parliament tables the register of electors legislation in December 2022 with a plan to enact it in January 2023, so that the register of electors may be compiled in accordance with the recommendations during that calendar year; 3- Sir Byron will present ‘phase 2’ of the report after the consultation process.
“I will be presenting my support in two phases. Phase one will be dealing with the registration of electors and phase two with the election process, ” he read.
Linton noted that Byron expressed that he has been mindful that his engagement carries the expectation of bridging the sharp divisions of opinion that have “handicapped” the completion of this reform exercise, and against this background, legislative support is required to give effect to the recommended reforms.
“The existing legislation relating to the registration of electors, as well as the electoral process, is quite old, and it has been a flashpoint for political disagreement and community dissatisfaction.”
“Merely amending the existing laws would not satisfy the goals of the reform exercise. A new legislation is needed to modernize the electoral system, and to bring it in line with the international best practices.”