ROSEAU, Dominica, Feb 18, CMC – Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has named nine women, including his wife, Melissa, in a virtual new slate of candidates as the ruling Dominica Labour Party (DLP) seeks to maintain power in the upcoming 2020 general election.
Addressing the DLP Special Delegates Conference in Londonderry, north east of here on Sunday, Skerrit dropped a number of senior ministers in his ‘change team for these changing times.
“Your fresh looking Dominica Labour Party is a change that Dominica needs at this time. We have presented to you…the fresh faces of change in Dominican politics,” Skerrit told supporters, adding “I appeal to the family of Labour to embrace this fresh group of patriots.
‘They are all success stories ladies and gentlemen. None of them is looking for a job. None of them is seeking economic opportunity. None of them can be considered, far less regarded as failures. These are young bright Dominicans in whom all can be pleased,” Skerrit said.
Among the causalities are Public Works Minister, Dr. Colin McIntyre, who in the past had served as acting prime minister, Sports, Youth Affairs Minister Justina Charles, the wife of the late prime minister Pierre Charles, whom Skerrit replaced as prime minister in 2004.
Education Minister Petter St. Jean, Health Minister Dr. Kenneth Darroux,, Information, Science and technology Minister Kelvar Darroux, Tourism Minister Robert Tonge, the Minister of Kalinago Affairs, Cassius Darroux and Johnson Drigo, the former agriculture minister, who was made a minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, are also not among the candidates announced to contest the 21 seats in the next general election.
Skerrit said that those persons not selected would not be placed in the political wilderness, “and had agreed to remain in the service of the people of Dominica, but in different capacities.
“Let me make it clear to you my brothers and sisters we are not discarding anyone. We were fortunate as a party in government to have had a group of youngsters men and women who stepped forward in 2000, 2005, 2009 and 2014 to serve their country.
“They have done a tremendous job under the circumstances and against a backdrop of enormous adversity. Many still have a bit more to give but we have determined that 2020 is the point at which we seek to prepare ourselves for a new dispensation of government and governance in Dominica”.
Skerrit said that the new look DLP slate is in response to the many calls by supporters for fresh faces ahead of the 2020 elections and consolidating the socio-economic development the country has achieved under his administration and creating the world’s first climate resilient country.
“We accept that such will call for considerable change in outlook, change in approach and change in attitude,” he said, brushing aside the main opposition United Workers Party (UWP) which he said contained the same faces and philosophy of 20 years ago.
“I am declaring the Dominica Labour Party is the party of change in Dominica. We are changing with the times. We need to build a new Dominica and we are changing from within to ensure that we are up to the task of national reconstruction.
“You have spoken and as your leader I have listened to you. You have said you love Labour and you want labour to continue in office but you want a bit of freshness. You want a few new faces and we have heard you,” Skerrit told supporters.
He defended the decision to include his wife, who will contest the Roseau Central seat that had been won by Joseph Issac on a UWP ticket in the last general election, before he crossed the floor to become Minister for the Environment, Climate Resilience, Disaster Management and Urban Renewal.
“It is one thing to have one parent directly involved in politics, it is something else to have two and to have very small children. But we are committed to this country and we are committed to the Dominica Labour Party,” Skerrit said.
Skerrit urged all supporters to put aside their differences and come together to build Dominica that suffered tremendously following the passage of Hurricane Maria in 2017 “that knocked us to the ground.
“We are back on our feet. A foundation has been laid over the past 15 months. I have introduced to you a fresh team…who will continue to build a new Dominica,” he said.
In the 2015 general election, the DLP won 15 of the 21 seats with the remainder going to the UWP and Skerrit said the 2020 polls should not be regarded as the DLP’s fifth consecutive term in office but as “the first term of our second fourth term stint in government”.