Group goes to court to postpone general election in Dominica

By SNO Staff

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The matter will be heard in the High Court of Justice in Roseau

(SNO) – Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM), a group seeking electoral reform in Dominica, has filed an application in the High Court of Justice in Roseau to have general election deferred until reforms are implemented.

The matter is expected to begin on December, 2 at the High Court and is the latest in series of political drama being played out in the run up to the polls slated for December 6.

Respondents in the case are Electoral Commission, the President of Dominica, the Chief Elections Officer, the Dominica Broadcasting Corporation and the Attorney General.

The application was filed by president of the CCM, Loftus Durand and other activist calling for electoral reform.

They are seeking an injunction restrain the defendants from holding general elections on the 6th of December 2019 or on any date prior to 5th February 2020.

Court documents show the application was filed “to the High Court of Justice for inter alia an order restraining the Electoral Commission and the Chief Elections Officer from conducting general elections on the 6th of December due to (i) the absence of a verified and accurate voter’s list (ii) refusal of the Electoral Commission and Chief Elections Officer to hear objections which were filed within the time limits for so filing before printing the Final Revised List of electors; and (iii) the publication of an erroneous and non existent nomination date in the Gazzete in breach of the madatory provisions of Section 13 of the House of Assembly Elections Act.”

The group has also written to the Chief justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court Dame Janice Perreria, asking for a non resident judge to preside over the matter.

But the request was refused by Perreria who said there was no need for such a judge.

The matter of electoral reform has been a hot topic in Dominica but has intensified since Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit, announced the election date.

The opposition United Workers Party (UWP) and several groups on the island believe the polls will not be fair without electoral reform.

They have been calling on the Skerrit-led Dominica Labour Party (DLP) administration to clean up the voters’ list, issue voter identification cards, regulate campaign finance and grant equal access to state media resources to all political parties.

To compound the situation, a Commonwealth Observer Mission to Dominica for the 2014 general election stated, “the election was not necessarily fair, due to: the lack of balance, and in some cases lack of professionalism of the media; the absence of campaign finance regulations and the resultant lack of transparency on financing, coupled with the exponentially increased expense associated with campaigning”.

The Observer Mission proposed a laundry list of recommendations, among them a house to house re-verification exercise of voters.

However, the government said it was unable to accept such a recommendation saying it is “unworkable and if implemented will cause confusion and disruption contrary to best practice and importantly will not result in the required updating of the list”.

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