Less than 24 hours after the Dominica Labour Party won 19 of 21 seats at the polls, the Electoral Reform Coalition (ERC) is calling for fresh elections no later than September 2024.
Compared to 2019, there was a relatively low turnout at this year’s general elections, called two and a half years before it was constitutionally due.
The ERC said in a press statement on Wednesday that is now convinced that the results of the elections sent a very strong message to the Ruling Administration that Dominica is fully ready for the judicious implementation of Electoral Reform on the island and fresh Elections being held within a two-year timeframe beginning from the December 7th, 2022.
“This very telling message and resounding call for Election Reform is represented in the Preliminary results of the 2022 “Snap” Elections showing an approximate 28% Voter Turnout in 2022 as contrasted with a 54% turnout in 2019. This sharp decline in Voter Turnout can be attributed to an intelligent understanding by the electorate that Dominica cannot countenance another Election without Reforms to the Electoral Process,” the statement said.
Electoral reform and clean voters list were the basis on which the United Workers Party opted out of the race. The party yielded no candidates.
Meanwhile, the ERC said the characteristic peaceful display by the Dominican electorate on Election Day should not go unrewarded if democracy is to be sustained on the island.
“The ERC now therefore strongly appeals to the Government of Dominica with all its Institutions inclusive of but not limited to the Office of the President, the Electoral Commission, the Supreme Courts in all their jurisdictions, Police, and Public Service to put their shoulders to the wheel in a collective effort to enhance democracy on the island,” the statement said.
The ERC is now requesting that the Visiting Election Missions from the Commonwealth, Organization of American States (OAS), and CARICOM Secretariat strongly recommend to their Head Offices that Dominica be afforded immediate Technical and Financial Support to assist the country in developing an envious and model Election Framework that would redound to the holding of Free and Fair Elections.
“The ERC emphasizes that the work of Sir Dennis Byron, Sole Election Reform Commissioner to the Commonwealth of Dominica be given the highest regard and that this work forms the bedrock for developing a truly reflective Election Framework and representative of the will of the people,” the statement said
The ERC is also asking that a white Paper be produced, on the Reform Process, utilizing Sir Byron’s Proposed Draft Legislations and Electoral Reform Recommendations be prepared and widely circulated to Dominica’s citizenry
They also want consultations to arrive at a consensus and compromise on the Legislation that would be tabled in Parliament, debated, passed, and assented to by His Excellency The President of the Commonwealth of Dominica
Another request is that the Electoral Commission, be mandated by the President to acquire all the resources required to fully implement the new legislation
That this mandate, according to the ERC should see the Commission declaring a readiness to supervise a General Election within one year of the passage of the Reform Legislation
That the reform Process should incorporate, according to the ERC, a National Consultative Process that involves the Electoral Commission ably supported by Sir Dennis Byron and his TEAM, a TEAM of Experts from the Observer Missions Secretariats, all Political Parties, Civil Society Organizations, and the Business Sector facilitated and committedly supported by the GovernmentComplete reregistration of electors- to be conducted in Dominica.
They want complete reconfirmation of electors- to be done only in Dominica Production and issuance of ID Cards to every eligible electorProvisions are made within the legislation to institute a body that would investigate and forcefully prosecute violations of the Electoral Laws, especially those committed by Candidates and Electoral Commission Functionaries
The passage of Campaign Finance Reform Legislation and a Public Accounts Committee Act were also among the request of the ERC.
The ERC wants all this and more to be implemented within eighteen months, which would reasonably allow for a fresh General Election to be called by September 2024.
“Dominica Deserves Better and Should Have Better,” the statement ended.