Updated: August 06, 2017

The Dominica Labor Party Administration seems to have given the people of Dominica an ultimatum. Either you agree to 'Bribery and Cheating during elections' or else we are not going to facilitate the passage of Enabling Legislation to institute electoral reform and voter ID Cards. For at least 10 years the Opposition in Dominica have been demanding the institution of voter ID cards and cleansing of the voters list.  However, the Labor Party Administration has adamantly refused because such actions would give opposing parties equal opportunity to be in Parliament. Instead,  they have decided to advance the detested idea of amending the House of Assembly Elections Act, to legalize bribery and cheating during elections. These practices have served them well in past 3 elections cycles, in clear violation of the Constitution and House of Assembly Act. 

This ongoing hostage situation has arisen from the progression of a despicable act by the Labor Party Administration that commenced with the hijacking of the Electoral Commission. This action has been sanctioned by Mr. Levy Peters, Attorney General of Dominica.  Mr. Peters has totally betrayed the trust of the Dominican people. The Attorney General ‘s role, as chief law enforcement and legal adviser to the government, is to protect the constitution. Under the constitution, "the Attorney General shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority". However, Mr. Peters has decided to support an administration’s effort to diminish the rights of the Dominican people, by supporting the proposed amendment of the House of Assembly Act, to remove choice during elections.  

Mr. Levy Peters has abdicated his role as the protector of the constitution to the extent that he believes that what happens at the Dominica Electoral Commission must stay at the Electoral Commission.  In fact, at the last sitting of the Dominica House of Assembly, he made his views known to the world.   Mr. Peters was displeased with two members of the Commission who he said was giving information about the workings of the Electoral Commission to the public.  Indeed, he was advocating for secrecy at Dominica’s Electoral Commission;  he even went as far as saying that commissioners who were recommended by the Parliamentary Opposition should "be removed by any means possible".  Is that man an Attorney? How does one, who does not understand the laws he is supposed to defend, become the Attorney General? Has he read the Dominica Constitution as it relates to the Electoral Commission? There are rules by which members of a Commission can be removed.   By his statement, he has demonstrated that he is ignorant of the constitution and, totally incompetent.  Mr. Peters should do the honorable thing and resign from his position.

Mr. Peters ought to be advocating for more transparency at the Commission.  In general, the proceedings of such commissions are supposed to be public.  The Commissioners are not working for themselves; they are not having a shareholders meeting within a private corporation. In fact, the Electoral Commission should release the minutes online so that it can be freely accessible to the public at anytime. For example, here is a link where you can find the minutes of the UK Electoral Commissioners' meetings; Electoral Commission Minutes.  How about putting out a press release after every meeting so as to inform the public of the proceedings of that meeting?  Does the Electoral Commission have a website where the people of Dominica can read about their Commissioners work? This is 2017, get with the times!! Here is a link to website of the Electoral Commission of Ghana,  http://www.ec.gov.gh/. Maybe Dominica should take a page from their book. 

What is going on at the Electoral Commission? Why does Mr. Peters believe that Dominicans should be kept in the dark with respect to the working of the Electoral Commission?  As it stands, any matter that is discussed in that body should not be confidential.  If Commissioners wish to discuss their private business, then they should do that outside, rather than at meetings of the Electoral Commission.
Electoral Commissions are instituted to protect the Democratic rights of the people within a country.  They are supposed to be independent from interference by any outside forces.  However, the Dominica Electoral Commission is faced with constant interference from this Labor Administration. The Labor Party Administration has manipulated votes and cheated their way through several elections via their control of the electoral Commission.  Is Dominica still a Democratic country?  How can the Commission assure the public of free and fair elections?    

Electoral Commissions, as enshrined in the constitution of many democratic countries worldwide, are established in such a manner as to shield them from interference by political parties.  Elections play a vital role in Democracy and are supposed to reflect the will of the majority. Through free and fair elections, the authority to manage peoples' affair is bestowed on those elected for a specified period. By manipulating the Dominica Electoral Commission, the Labor Party Administration has usurped the will and rights of the majority to choose their leaders.  Predictably, corrupt administrations try to stay in power by any means possible. In this regard, through their actions, the current Administration in Dominica has revealed their clear intent - to win elections by any means necessary.

If the Labor Party administration does not relent in their motivation to continue holding Democracy as hostage, what recourse is available? One plausible, yet practical action, is for opposition parties and other stakeholders to file suit against the electoral commission as was successful executed in another Commonwealth nation, Republic of Ghana.  In that case, two citizens took the Ghanaian Electoral Commission and the Ghanaian Attorney General to court for failure to clean up the voters list before upcoming elections. The case went to the Supreme Court of Ghana which ruled in May of 2016, compelling the Electoral Commission to clean up the list, before the next election.  Just imagine, the Ghanaian Electoral Commission had a relatively clean list by September 2016, in time for the election which was held in December that same year. If the voters list can be successfully cleansed and updated in a country of 29 million, why not in Commonwealth of Dominica which has an estimated population of 72 thousand persons?