DOMINICA-Senior ruling party official downplays need for electoral reform

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The campaign manager of the ruling Dominica Labour Party (DLP), Vince Henderson, says he does not believe electoral reform is required ahead of the next general election, constitutionally due by March next year, but widely expected to be held before that date.

“I depart from my party when they talk about reform. I don’t think there’s need for electoral reform. There is a need for continued enhancement of the electoral process so as to ensure that as we move as a developing country that we can enhance greater efficiency and accuracy in the election process,” Henderson, who is also the country’s ambassador to the United States, told reporters.

Vince Henderson

Earlier this month, President of the Dominica Association of Evangelical Churches (DAEC), Pastor Randy Rodney, warned that “something will erupt” if the upcoming general election is perceived as not being fair.

Rodney is a member of a group comprising the church, business and civil society leaders who have been lobbying for electoral reform ahead of the next general elections.

The main opposition United Workers Party (UWP) has been calling for electoral reform here and the ruling DLP of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit says it has taken several measures to advance the process.

It said these included the decision to introduce a National I.D Card; the provision of funding for the necessary equipment to facilitate the administration of the card; the creation of legal instruments on electoral reform and the tabling of bills entitled Registration of Electors (Amendment) Act 2017 in the Dominica parliament.

However, the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM), which late last year, organised street protests, said that the Organization of American States (OAS), the London-based Commonwealth Secretariat and the organisations that have sent teams to Dominica to monitor general elections in the past, have all called for electoral reform.

Rodney said that the group has met with representatives of the various political parties and other stakeholders in the electoral process.

Henderson told reporters that the reports every observer group have come to one conclusion “that elections in Dominica have been free and fair.

“You only fix something that is broken and I would not even venture into the reform mode for elections. People give you the impression that there’s something amiss …as if something happened that undermined the electoral process.

‘Well just not me, the Commonwealth Secretariat most recently looked at it and in their report and I am not at liberty to disclose the details of the report…but have come to the conclusion that the election system in Dominica, yes there are some things that can be done to improve it, but there’s nothing amiss with the process,” said Henderson, ahead of the party’s launch of a new candidate for the polls on Sunday.

“I think we need to be honest with ourselves, the losing parties have always found a problem with the system, the same one that got them into office in 1995 and therefore I believe if we are having an honest conversation on the electoral process, let’s talk of enhancing the system but not giving the impression that it is broken and something was amiss,” Henderson added.

Prime Minister Skerrit, speaking ahead of the party’s launch of the candidate for the Morne Jaune/Riviere Cyrique constituency, said: “we are entering an exciting period where we have begun the launch of the various candidates”.

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