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New UNDP Head calls on prime minister & key ministry officials

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Magdy Martinez-Soliman

On Monday, October 8, 2019, the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica, the Honourable Roosevelt Skerrit received the Letters of Credence of the new UNDP Representative for Barbados and the OECS, Magdy Martinez Soliman. Martinez was accompanied by the new Head of UNDP’s Office in Dominica, Luis Francisco Thais.

Dominica hosts the single-largest programme of UNDP in the Eastern Caribbean, focused on the blue economy, resilience-building, climate action and the ongoing recovery of health, education and housing infrastructure damaged by Hurricane Maria in 2017. UNDP’s programmes have been supported by China, India, the United Kingdom, Canada and the European Union, in addition to Denmark, Romania, New Zealand and Japan.

Prime Minister Skerrit emphasized during the courtesy call the long-standing relationship between Dominica and UNDP, going back to 2002 when the United Nations Development Programme helped the country in finding policy options within the stringent conditions of the then structural adjustment. Fast forward, UNDP was the first responder of the UN after Hurricane Maria hit in 2017, and has been one of the prime recovery partners of Dominica, on the road to becoming the first climate-resilient nation on the planet.

The Prime Minister encouraged UNDP senior officials to provide technical assistance on housing, undertake a review of public expenditure containment and continue supporting the recovery of educational infrastructure, notably the Salisbury State College. The Government and UNDP have been in promising conversations with diplomatic representatives of the People’s Republic of China in this regard.

Following the private audience, the Prime Minister presided over a meeting of his Cabinet with the UNDP Representatives, which was then handed over for the Foreign Minister, the Hon. Francine Baron, to Chair. Cabinet Ministers debated several projects with the international guests including PAYS (the Portsmouth Association of Yachting Services) – which receives UNDP support – Kalinago community assistance and, economic management of public revenue and recovery.

 Martinez Soliman had met earlier in the morning with the Honourable Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Lennox Linton, at the House of Assembly, and will have encounters throughout his mission with the Resident Judge of the High Court and the Ambassadors of Cuba and Venezuela. Bilateral meetings are also scheduled with the Minister for Planning and Economic Development; the Minister of Education and Human Resource Development; the Minister for Environment, Climate Resilience, Disaster Management and Urban Renewal; the Minister for Kalinago Affairs and the Minister for Justice, Immigration and National Security.

Soliman will leave the country after having visited the Kalinago territory and met the Kalinago Council. The UNDP Head hosted a press conference for main media representatives and a discussion with local Civil Society Organisations, including the Dominican Association for Persons with Disabilities and the National Youth Council of Dominica, among others.





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Dominica

Over 2400 new voters on supplementary electors list

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There are over 2400 newly registered electors on the Supplementary List issued by the Electoral Office on Wednesday.

In accordance with section 16 of the Registration of Electors Act, Chap. 2:03, the Supplementary Register was published on November 13, 2019, within 7 days of the date the writs were issued for the holding of elections.

The Supplementary Register contains the names of new registrations which were effected between the end of September 2019 and November 6th 2019.

Chief Elections Officer, Ian-Michael Anthony, is encouraged by the number of persons who qualified to be registered and takes it as an indication that there is marked interest in persons being a part of the process and making their voices heard on Election Day.

“Over the past few months, the Electoral Office has been encouraging persons to get registered to vote to be part of the process. We are happy to report, between the publication of our Preliminary List and the list of voters who registered on the night of the writ, that 2408 persons were registered to vote. It is very encouraging to see that persons who are interested in the process have taken the first step, as we
encouraged, by getting registered to vote and we trust that come Election Day, the level of interest we see in persons getting registered will be manifested in voter turnout,” Anthony stated.

On nomination day, slated for Tuesday 19th November 2019, the Final Elections List is used to determine that the six (6) persons nominating each candidate are themselves registered electors. For this reason, the Final Elections List must be issued before nomination day to facilitate the needs of the Returning
Officers.

“The Final List of Electors which will be used on Election Day, will be prepared ahead of Nomination Day which will be Tuesday 19th November 2019 and the Final List of Electors will be a combination of names from the Preliminary List as well as the recently released Supplementary List. It is important that the Returning Officers have access to those Final Lists as those will be used to verify that the persons who nominate candidates for the election are actually registered electors.

Mr Anthony further urged electors to participate in the process beyond just registration and to engage
by using the fundamental privilege of casting a ballot on Election Day. The Chief said, “We also use this opportunity to remind electors that it is their right to go out and vote and encourage them to exercise their franchise.”

In 2009 and 2014, the numbers of new registrations on the Supplementary Lists at the same time in the
elections process were 2880 and 2895, respectively.





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DLP presents its election manifesto; asks Dominicans to ‘judge us’

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The Dominica Labour Party (DLP) has launched its 2019 Manifesto.

The Manifesto, entitled ‘Dynamic Dominica’ a New Season of Development, was presented to the Dominican public at a meeting held on the Mahaut Playing field on Thursday night.

The party gave the assurance that whatever was delivered on Thursday night will be delivered to Dominica because the DLP has demonstrated that it keeps its promises.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit who was addressing DLP supporters gathered at the event said the manifesto is laid out with a pictorial that traces the history, the challenges faced and the success of labour.

“It then goes into broad sections, building resilience is section 1. This, as you know, is my signature initiative,” he revealed. “While most people think resilience in the environmental context, the manifesto seeks to create resilience building in a social and economic context.”

Skerrit continued, “It is the goal of the labour party that I lead, to build something valuable, sustainable and enduring.”

According to him, the country’s national infrastructure has to sustain the people who live in the Dominican society.

“The economy must sustain infrastructure and the people,” he stated.  “It’s the people who must build the infrastructure and build productive capacity into the economy.”

To address climate resilience Skerrit said the DLP intends to put its utility on the ground.

“Utilize building standards that allow our properties to stand against extreme weather events…,” he stated, “we will build disaster resource centres across Dominica with community evacuation plans at Castle Bruce, Grandbay, Jimmit, the Kalinago Territory, Marigot, Portsmouth and Roseau.”

The prime minister said that this will be accomplished, “by utilizing renewable energy from geothermal resources, banning single-use plastics and giving incentives for electric vehicles.”

Furthermore, Skerrit said his party’s plans to construct 5000 climate-resilient houses is well on the way, “as our efforts to reinforce our drainage and defenses and establish in Dominica, a global centre for climate studies.”

He mentioned also that his party plans to expand the country’s cruise capacity by building a cruise port to hold more cruise ships and bring greater activity into the city.

The construction of a new International Airport also forms part of the DLP’s 2019 Manifesto.

The DLP leader said the Manifesto ends with the section Dynamic Dominica and the world.

“It deals with the Dominican diaspora whose skills, goodwill, energy and resources we need to help build ‘Dynamic Dominica’,” he indicated. “It also points to the fact that this government prudently extended our global footprint with strategic friendships which advanced our national interest.”

He went on to say that his party is offering Dominicans the only real development plan that has been put on the table which presents the social policies and programmes that will make a difference in people’s lives.

“It demonstrates how young people will get new opportunities and it indicates by what means the country’s seniors would be given comfort as they age,” he said.

“This is a country in which there are new opportunities for all,” the prime minister continued, “This is a country in which all our citizens are respected and looked after irrespective of their political affiliations.”

Skerrit said in this election, the moment has come for labour to lay its plan before the country and say, “judge us.”

“We ask you to judge us on five things,” he indicated.

1.      The quality of labour’s performance as a government, having to face two hurricanes virtually back-to-back and one of them with the devastating power of Maria.

2.      The progress of Dominica over the last 20 years, we have moved from the island with the least development to one which is growing rapidly and comparing favourably to our neighbours who used to be far ahead of us.

3.      The social services, healthcare, education, housing and infrastructure labour has put in place in Dominica which has modernized this country.

4.      Labour’s delivery on its past promises made on political platforms and in previous manifestos

5.      The quality and breadth of labour’s new vision for the Commonwealth of Dominica.

The Dominica Labour Party Manifesto is now available at www.dominicalabourparty.org

Meantime, the opposition United Workers Party (UWP) plans to launch their 2019 Manifesto on Friday 29th November in Roseau.





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COMMENTARY: Save Dominica’s Democracy – Dominica News Online

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Dominicans will go to the polls on December 6, 2019, with the will and the need to save the nation. But will the votes of Dominicans actually count?

The people will cast their votes in the face of an incumbent Government which has demonstrated that it will circumvent Dominican law, spurn public outrage, and defy the recommendations of the international community in order to stay in office.

The Commonwealth Dominica is an independent nation in the Eastern Caribbean with membership in the Caribbean Community(CARICOM), the Commonwealth of Nations, and the Organization of American States (OAS). On or about September 27, 2019, those international organizations rendered a report on electoral reform to the Government of Dominica.

Those recommendations included:

  1. Cleansing the electoral list of dead and non-resident nationals absent from the country for more than 5 years
  2. Issuance of voter ID cards
  3. The institution of measures to ensure that overseas voters, not within the bounds of the electoral law, are not allowed to vote.

On or about September 27, 2019, Dominica’s Attorney General, Levi Peter, immediately rejected the report as unacceptable and impracticable. That, despite numerous calls by the Parliamentary Opposition and the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM) that the three recent elections on Dominica had been tainted by bribery of voters, the importation of voters from overseas who did not meet the residency requirements and credible claims of voting by persons using names of persons long deceased.

These common-sense recommendations to ensure that Dominican elections would be free and fair were not new or radical. They have been proposed consistently over the years, and the Government and its Administration have had ample time to ensure that Dominica could be a model of electoral fairness and transparency.

On November 5, 2019 in a stunning rejection of the recommendations of the international organizations to which Dominica belongs, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit moved to dissolve Parliament and called general elections for December 6, 2019. Prime Minister Skerrit acted in brazen violation of the tenets of democracy and rule of law. He acted with wanton disregard of the recommendations made by those international organizations to which Dominica claims association, and from which it gains its legitimacy.

Mr. Skerrit’s actions were despotic and tyrannical in that they came in the midst of calls by the Parliamentary Opposition Leader Lennox Linton and others that he the Prime Minister account for an estimated $1.2-billion dollars missing from Dominica’s 2018/2019 passport sales. The Government of Dominica not only refused to account for the missing State funds, but is using those funds to mount a lavish campaign of vote rigging preparations by enrolling non-citizens and others on the voter rolls, using publicly-owned media and state resources exclusively for the benefit of the ruling Dominica Labour Party and contracting with airlines and marine carriers to transport foreign-based voters to the polls at no charge to those voters.

Such actions are, prima facie, in defiance of the Constitution which was created to protect the rights of Dominican citizens.

The actions of the ruling Dominica Labour Party threaten social peace on the island, undermines rule of law, eviscerates our democratic tradition and prevents the pursuit of free and fair elections. We, therefore, call on the United Nations and, the international organizations which made the fair and just electoral reform recommendations, to condemn the calling of elections by the Skerrit regime without reform.

Further, we ask that CARICOM, the Commonwealth and the OAS immediately arrange to send election observers to Dominica to ensure that our democracy and rule of law is preserved. This must, of necessity, be an observer mission with deep ability to probe not merely the conduct of election-day events, but also to ensure that the electoral rolls have been verified; that vote counting is assured to be free from rigging; and that the electoral authorities themselves are able to be certified as being free from coercion or bias.

Finally, we ask that all freedom-loving nations and traditional allies act to bring pressure to bear on the Government to ensure that free and fair elections are held on Dominica, come December 6, 2019.

It is clear that neither the Dominican public nor the international community will tolerate, support, or deal with a Government which has no legitimacy and which has shown no respect for domestic or international law.





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