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PAID POST: Prime Minister Skerrit silent on Marcellin’s invitation to engage in community dialogue

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Clement “Clemo” Marcellin

Town hall-style fora are fast becoming the most effective strategy for face-to-face encounters with community groups, activists and for the common man who otherwise have no avenue for assessing their candidates.

In the Caribbean and certainly Dominica, political canvassing has traditionally relied on big rallies and block meetings, in relatively noisy and fete-like atmospheres, where party diehards fuel leaders with their applause, fanfare, and chants. In these settings, the speakers frequently monotonize the proceedings with the leeway of setting his/her own agenda or staying far from the hot button issues as far as possible.

This euphoria ensures that even the most buoyant issues are easily drowned or remain submerged. Sadly, there is no chance for the public to scrutinize their candidate against policy or strategy or assess their stress levels when asked difficult questions.

Without a doubt, a Town Hall forum within the Vieille Case Constituency will provide the best chance for constituents to hear from both the incumbent and opposition candidate on topical issues. It provides an opportunity for constituents to ask questions or guide development programmes for the communities by projecting their own views. For too long the constituency has been starved of information on pertinent developmental issues. In fact, a culture of imposition is fast permeating every facet of our Dominican society.

It is in this context, and in the interest of community engagement, Clement “Clemo” Marcellin, the United Workers Party candidate for the Vieille Case Constituency, invited the Parliamentary Representative, Honourable Roosevelt Skerrit, to participate in a town hall-style meeting. The goal was for constituents to hear from and engage both candidates on developmental issues, within the constituency, in a relatively less politically charged setting. This new dimension to the campaign would promote and value the contributions of all stakeholders and to a large extent, shape the development agenda for the constituency. Unfortunately, Mr. Skerrit has not acknowledged nor responded to the offer to participate in this broad consultative political process, pushed by the youth and other civic-minded people of the constituency.

This reflects a lack of political maturity and a serious deficiency in our democratic system, where people must be encouraged to question their leaders or hold them to account. There are heightened concerns that Dominica is quickly sliding to a one-man totalitarian state. As is evident, over the last two decades, there has been a steady deterioration of the cordial relationship between politicians and those who have opposing views.

It was widely expected that this opportunity would signal a willingness to restore confidence in Dominica’s political process and set the pace for consultative politics. Mr. Skerrit’s lack of a response exposes his aloof and condescending attitude he projects on the community he serves and, in my opinion, a violation of the fundamental assumption and basic rule of decency which once guided Dominica’s political process.

In a politically charged environment like/as ours, politicians are obligated to play their role in contributing to participatory politics built on trust, mutual respect, and inclusion of all viewpoints; irrespective of race, gender, religion or political bias. After all, this is our little island gem which we must all dutifully preserve.

While the ball is still in the Prime Minister’s court, I would kindly ask of him, to engage meaningfully in community fora where constituents can engage each other respectfully and constructively. Our leadership would play a crucial role in guiding this process. This dimension to our politics would augur well for Dominica and will defeat the tribalism which is fast engulfing our local politics. My greatest hope, therefore, is for politicians on both sides of the spectrum to demonstrate maturity, restraint and engagement of each other in a manner which promotes tolerance and mutual respect.

The invitation letter is attached.

 

Invitation letter is attached

Download (PDF, 1.91MB)





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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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Eighteen organizations benefit from President’s Charities Foundation

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President of Dominica, His Excellency Charles Savarin

Eighteen charitable organizations in Dominica have benefited from proceeds raised during the President’s Charities Foundation fundraising dinner for 2018.

Some of the recipient organizations include the Dominica Association of Persons with Disabilities (DAPD), St Jerome’s Ministry, Lupus Foundation, Dominica Council on Aging, R.E.A.C.H, House of Hope, St Vincent De Paul Society (Roseau & Northern Branches), The Social Centre (St. Ann’s Day Nursery) , Operation Youth Quake, and the Dominica Dementia Foundation.

The ceremony for the handing over of the cheques was held at the St. Alphonsus Parish Hall on Wednesday, November 13th , 2019.

President of Dominica His Excellency, Charles Savarin, said at the ceremony that this year’s gross receipt of $EC110, 105 for the fundraising dinner represented a slight increase over last year’s amount of $EC99,000.

A total of $EC23,000 was given out to eleven of the eighteen charitable organizations and the rest will be disbursed in visits made to the other institutions.

He added that the net surplus this year was $EC68,612 compared to $EC64,000 last year.

“We also contributed $10,000 to the Mahaut scout troop… for support in the completion of their den. Also, following the disaster of Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas, the government established an appeal fund to which the President’s Charities Foundation contributed $5,000 and we have reserved $10,000 for the hosting of the children’s Christmas party,” His Excellency explained.

He also said that $EC5,000 was placed in a reserve fund which will be used to assist different establishments in their time of need.

The President called on the general public to support the fundraising dinner.





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