(SNO) – Saint Lucia’s ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS), Anton Edmunds, has said that he expects all parties in Dominica to act with the rule of law as the country is gripped by political tension.
Edmunds was addressing, on behalf of CARICOM, a Special Meeting of the Permanent Council of the OAS on Friday afternoon in Washington DC on the situation on the island.
“The framework for democracy and the practicing of its principles exist in Dominica, including freedom of assembly and expression,” he stated. “We expect that all parties will act within the rule of law and respect for the constitutional order.”
Since election was called recently for December 6, Dominica has been in the throes of political tension, mainly focused around electoral reform.
The opposition United Workers Party (UWP) and several civic groups have been calling for the reform of the election system on the island. They say such reforms will reduce the ruling party’s advantage at the polls.
They have been calling on the Roosevelt 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.
For several days protests have been held on the matter but it turned ugly last Monday night when police clashed with protesters who were demanding to see the President on the matter.
Edmunds told the OAS that the process for all electoral reform is complex.
“We welcome efforts at electoral reform within the framework of governing principles and processes provided for in the constitutions of any member states,” he said.
He stated that there has been no widespread or deadly violence in Dominica as the island prepares to hold elections with the current provisions of its constitution.
“The Caribbean has always have strong traditions of democracy, notably free and fair elections, considering previous electoral missions in the Caribbean, we know and are confident that the OAS as an institution understands this,” he stated.
Edmunds encouraged impartiality at the OAS and addressed the fact that Dominica did not invite an OAS mission to observe the election on the island as it has done in the past.
“There must be a recognition that there are a number of highly credible bodies that observe elections and the Commonwealth of Dominica has invited for them to observe its own election,” he stated. “There is no obligation for any member state to invite the OAS.”