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HomeElectionElectoral Reform Coalition (ERC) Press Release demanding proper Electoral Reform in Dominica

Electoral Reform Coalition (ERC) Press Release demanding proper Electoral Reform in Dominica

PRESS RELEASE

Considering the importance of the need for electoral reform in the Commonwealth of Dominica which the citizenry has been demanding for almost two decades and even though the Prime Minister has disrespected the entire nation by making his most recent draft legislation available only to the President, the Electoral Commission and Dominica Labour Party parliamentarians, although he announced that the draft legislation would be available on the government’s website, almost two weeks later opposition parliamentarians and the general population are yet to access the draft legislations. The Electoral Reform Coalition (ERC) convened a stakeholder’s workshop at the University of the West Indies Global Campus on Saturday 25th May 2024 to review the draft legislation which was accessed from various social media platforms.

The Electoral Reform Coalition (ERC) was not able to verify the authenticity of the draft legislation that was available on social media, but in an abundance of caution and to avoid delaying the review process, the ERC proceeded to scrutinize the document that was in the public’s domain with the expectation that it was not a fake document used as a decoy to mislead the population.

The ERC therefore demands that Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit immediately make available official copies of the draft legislation to the population in the same manner that he did after he received the report from Sir Dennis Byron. It is grossly disrespectful on the part of the Prime Minister to allow the population to access the draft legislation on social media which is prone to manipulation and possible contamination.

Meanwhile, the stakeholders who participated in the review of the legislation that was available to them are concerned that whereas many sections of the proposed legislation have satisfactorily addressed some of the concerns of the public the draft legislation has failed to address critical issues such as residency requirements for voters and the issue of campaign financing proposed in the Sir Dennis Byron draft legislation has been omitted in its entirety.

There are other observations the stakeholders have made, but the ERC reserves its comments until such time that the Prime Minister makes authentic copies available. It is important to note that while the Prime Minister is playing childish games with the population by denying them access to his draft legislation, he is also threatening to take the legislation to parliament before the next financial year giving the impression that

parliamentary approval for the funding of the electoral legislation is dependent on the law being passed in parliament.

The ERC wishes to alert the population that the presentation of the electoral legislation has nothing to do with the annual budget debate. Provisions for the funding of the electoral reform Legislation and the allocation for the work of the electoral office with an increased amount can be done at the next budget presentation whether or not the electoral legislation is presented to parliament or the funding for the implementation of the new Legislations can be done through a Supplementary Estimate.

 The Prime Minister’s pronouncement of taking the electoral legislation to parliament before the next budget debate is a farce and an attempt to short-circuit the population to ensure that the demands for changes in the electoral legislation are satisfactorily addressed. The Prime Minister or the Minister for Finance owes the public an explanation as to the cost of the implementation of the reform Legislation since these things are not being done in parliament without the necessary preparations. 

It is well established that the Electoral Commission has to prepare the required budget allocations for carrying out its function for the implementation of the new Legislation which has to be submitted to the Ministry of Finance through the Chief Elections Officer to be included in the national budget estimate. The Prime Minister who is neither the Electoral Commission nor the Minister for Finance is disregarding these authorities as set out in the Constitution of Dominica.

The Electoral Reform Coalition is calling on the Electoral Commission to immediately circulate the draft legislation and conduct public discussions to inform the population of the contents of the draft electoral legislation. Political parties must also do their part. We have gone too far to allow Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit and his Dominica Labour Party to hijack the electoral reform process.

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