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(SNO) – The Organization of American States (OAS) Deputy U.S. Permanent Representative Alexis F. Ludwig has raised concerns over the political situation in Dominica as the island prepares for general election on December 6.
His concerns were made in remarks to the organization’s Permanent Council on Wednesday and he has described the situation as “worrisome” and “tense.”
“The situation is growing more worrisome. There have been numerous demonstrations throughout the year to raise concerns about the fairness and transparency of elections, and unfortunately there was an outbreak of clashes this week in Dominica,” he said.
He was referring to civil unrest in Roseau earlier this week when protesters calling for election reform and police clash. Tear gas was fired to disperse the protesters near the official residence of the president, Charles Savarin.
“Madame Chair, we welcome the attention of the OAS member states to appreciate the tense political situation in Dominica surrounding the December 6 elections, and the decision of the Government of Dominica to hold these elections without implementing electoral reforms,” he stated.
Ludwig said the OAS has sent several missions to Dominica to observe past elections and has made a number of recommendations but noe have been implemented.
He pointed a joint mission to Dominica by the OAS, CARICOM, and the Commonwealth last August and three areas of concern were identified for free, fair and transparent elections.
“1) Removal of deceased persons and ineligible voters from the current electoral list; 2) Issuance of photo identification cards to electors to facilitate more accurate identification at the polls; and 3) Removal from the current electoral list of all diaspora voters who are ineligible to vote by virtue of being out of the country for more than five years,” he explained. “Sadly, the Government of Dominica rejected all of these recommendations.”
Ludwig noted that Prime Minister of Dominica Roosevelt Skerrit called election “without implementing recommendations listed in a joint OAS/CARICOM/Commonwealth report issued in September 2019.”
“We recognize that Prime Minister Skerrit has the constitutional right to call elections at anytime,” he stated. “However, we believe that implementing the recommendations would have contributed significantly to the fairness and transparency of the elections that all Dominicans seek, but also reaffirm the OAS’ and international community’s confidence that Dominica wants to ensure that its elections meets the standards of the OAS Democratic Charter and the international norms for organizing and holding elections.”
He lamented the fact that the Government of Dominica has not invited the OAS to send an Electoral Observation Mission.
“As we know, the OAS Electoral Observation Missions are the gold standard in ensuring free and fair elections,” Ludwig stated.
Meanwhile Secretary General of the OAS, Luis Amalgro, has added his voice to the matter saying that the people of Dominica deserve an election that is free and fair.
Amalgro took to Twitter to voice his concerns following the unrest in Roseau last Monday night.
“The people of #Dominica deserve democratic, fair, inclusive and transparent elections. Democracy is the best antidote against violence,” Amalgro said in a tweet on Wednesday, October 20.
He stated an Observation Mission to Dominica would be essential to provide assurance and suggest improvements to the system.