Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has announced that the Leader of the Opposition, Jesma Paul-Victor is not in support of his choice of nominee for the next President of Dominica, therefore, for the next 14 days, nominations will be submitted followed by an election.
His announcement came during an interview with the state-owned DBS radio, where he detailed the constitutional provisions governing the selection of the president.
According to these provisions, there should be a consultation between the prime minister and the leader of the opposition, during which the prime minister shares his nominee for the presidential role, which Skerrit says was done. He did, however, disclose that due to Paul-Victor’s disapproval of his nomination, instead of going to parliament this morning to announce his choice Mrs Slyvanie Burton as the incoming president, who would take over from Charles Savarin effective October 1, 2023, he has instead written to the Speaker of the House of Assembly that there is no joint nomination.
The Prime Minister explained that the process will now be open for the next 14 days, during which nominations will be submitted. This will be followed by a parliamentary vote by secret ballot to determine the next President of Dominica. Skerrit expressed his disappointment in the leader of the opposition’s unwillingness to support Mrs. Burton, highlighting her qualifications and lifelong commitment to the Kalinago people and the nation as a whole.
“We had a golden opportunity as a country to allow for history to be created first with the appointment of the first female president in our political history and the first person of Kalinago descent to be considered for such high office,” he said.
Skerrit added, “So it is unfortunate and I see this as a vilification of a woman and the vilification of a Kalinago which is unfortunate because they are the people who first came to our county and defended our patrimony and allowed us to now call Dominica our home.”
As per the head of government’s remarks, Mrs. Burton’s qualifications extend far beyond her gender and Kalinago heritage. He emphasized that she meets the constitutional requirements for the presidential role. Furthermore, he highlighted her lifelong commitment to Dominica, where she has resided throughout her life, serving both the Kalinago people and the nation as a whole.
“Every development program and project which has been pursued in the Kalinago territory over the last 40 years she has been involved in one way or the other, either preparing the project documents, soliciting funds, or overseeing its implementations” he stated.
“So this is somebody who has all the [qualifications] and above and beyond being a female and Kalinago,” Skerrit added, “so I cannot understand any reason why the leader of the opposition would have come to that conclusion but I guess her advisors might have a different view and they would have so advised her.”
As previously announced, Mrs. Burton, 58, from Salybia, Kalinago Territory has served as permanent secretary in various ministries since 2014. She has served as Permanent Secretary in the Ministries of Community Development, Foreign Affairs, Trade, Youth and Social Services, and holds a current position as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Rural Modernization, Kalinago Upliftment, and Constituency Empowerment.
She also previously served as a development officer in the Ministry of Kalinago Affairs and held the position of District Development Officer (DDO) for an extended period.
The mother of two brings 25 years of experience as a Justice of the Peace and has dedicated over two decades as a lay associate in the Roman Catholic Church. Mrs. Burton’s educational background includes a master’s degree in Project Management and a bachelor’s degree in Rural Development.