Tensión política en Dominica: las claves para entender las elecciones de este viernes
Claves de las elecciones generales en Dominica
Los dominiqués acudirán a las urnas este viernes 6 de diciembre para elegir a los integrantes de la Cámara de la Asamblea, quienes a su vez escogerán al próximo jefe de Estado.
Las elecciones se llevarán a cabo en un contexto de ambiente desestabilizador impulsado por el candidato del opositor Partido de Trabajadores Unidos (UWP, por sus siglas en inglés), Lennox Linton, denunciado por el primer ministro de la isla caribeña, Roosevelt Skerrit.
Asimismo, las votaciones ocurrirán pese a las maniobras injerencistas por parte de la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA), cuyo secretario general, Luis Almagro, quería “parar las elecciones”, según afirmó el gobernante dominiqués.
1. Quedan 5 días para las elecciones generales en #Dominica. El PM @SkerritR dio una entrevista a @teleSURtv . Vamos a contextualizar lo que ocurre. La oposición exigía la suspensión de las elecciones y reforma electoral que ellos mismos bloquearon en el parlamento pic.twitter.com/WZvj240Hb7
— Madelein Garcia (@madeleintlSUR) December 2, 2019
¿Qué se elige?
En esta elección se renovarán los 21 escaños en la Cámara de la Asamblea de Dominica.
De acuerdo con el sistema electoral, los 21 asambleístas son elegidos en circunscripciones de un solo miembro.
El parlamento elige nueve miembros adicionales, que son nombrados por el presidente (cinco por el consejo del primer ministro y cuatro por el consejo del líder de la oposición).
Dominica tiene la siguiente estructura gubernamental: un jefe de Estado o presidente que ejerce un mandato de cinco años, el cual es elegido por la Cámara de la Asamblea; un primer ministro, el cual es seleccionado por el presidente; y el parlamento unicameral.
En la actualidad, la presidencia está ocupada por Charles Savarin (desde el 2 de octubre de 2013), mientras que el primer ministro es Roosevelt Skerrit (desde el 8 de enero de 2004).
Principales partidos políticos
Los principales partidos políticos que acuden a estas elecciones son el Laborista de Dominica (DLP, por sus siglas en inglés), liderado por Skerrit, y que cuenta con 15 escaños ganados en las últimas votaciones; de Trabajadores Unidos (UWP), dirigido por Linton, y que tiene seis bancas en el poder Legislativo, y el de la Libertad de Dominica (DFP), encabezado por Michael Astaphan, y sin asambleístas.
Población y votantes
Dominica tiene una población de 74 mil 893 (de los cuales 31 mil 993 son mujeres), mientras que los votantes registrados suman 70 mil 541.
Application for injunction to stop elections goes to Court of Appeal
Amidst protest action and clashes with security forces over demands for electoral reform to ensure free and fair elections, High Court Judge Bernie Stephenson has ruled that the court “does not have the jurisdiction to grant an injunction to stop the December 6th, 2019 general elections to be held in Dominica.”
Pressure group, Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM), headed by its president Loftus Durand and six other Dominican citizens, went to court to challenge the December 6th, 2019 elections and asked the court to “halt the process and place an injunction.”
Cara Shillingford, who led the case for the applicants, told the court that “it does have jurisdiction to grant the reliefs sought.”
“We have a constitutional right to approach the court, the constitution provides that right and we are submitting that they have a right to be heard,” she told the court.
However, Lennox Lawrence, attorney for President Charles Savarin, who is a party to the matter, said “this is not a fundamental rights issue and once the election writ was issued by the President, the court has no jurisdiction on the matter.” His views were supported by the attorney for the Electoral Commission and Ian Michael Anthony, the Chief Elections Officer, Health Felix-Evans.
“The law is clear and well settled on the issue on election law and jurisdiction. This challenge must be done after the election via an election petition. This court has no jurisdiction to grant an injunction,” the lawyers for the respondents told the court.
In her ruling, Justice Stephenson dismissed the applicant to grant an injunction and to grant judicial review.
“This court cannot intrude on the elections once the writ has been issued by the President. I understand that the applicants may have legitimate concerns but that can be done otherwise and that is after the election, via elections petition and so, declare that this court has no jurisdiction to grant the reliefs sought,” the Judge stated.
Heather Felix-Evans said she was not surprised at the court’s ruling.
“The law is settled. It was on our side and there is also a plethora of cases saying that anything challenging the legitimacy of the elections have to be brought to an elections court which is a special court and has special jurisdiction established under Section 40 of the constitution,” she said.
“They are asking the court to assume or speculate that the results will not be fair and the fact that they have come before the elections, will not help them because what they are challenging is the legitimacy of the elections. Therefore, they have to wait and the alternative remedy is election petition and they have 21 days after the election to so do…once the President issues the writ the elections must be held,” Felix-Evans stated.
Attorney for the applicants, Cara Shillingford, has put the court on notice that they will appeal.
“We are not surprised at the decision and will appeal. We remain firm in our conviction that the elections should be stopped and there are too many irregularities for the December 6th, 2019 election to go ahead. We have also indicated to the Judge that we will appeal,” Shillingford stated.
“We are so concerned about the irregularities in the register of electors and we will not at this time, this is not an application that is common, There are authorities (Canadian) granting injunctions. The fact that it has never been made in Dominica or this jurisdiction, does not say it can’t be granted. There is a first time for everything and if the law and the constitution support us, the court should interpret and apply the law it a way that requires justice,” Shillingford stated.
The appeal will be lodged within the next few hours with the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) based in St. Lucia.
EOJ officials to observe Dominica elections
TWO officials from the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) will join the Caribbean Community (Caricom) Election Observation Mission to the general election in Dominica, which is scheduled for Friday.
Andrew Smith and Rohan Porter, regional managers in the Field Operations Department of the EOJ, will observe the elections as members of the Caricom team. Both representatives, according to a release from the Electoral Commission of Jamaica, have extensive experience in electoral management and administration.
Director of Elections Glasspole Brown said it is uncommon for the Caricom Secretariat to invite more than one representative, and considers this opportunity a privilege.
“Usually, Caricom asks for one representative to serve as part of their observation mission. However, due to our reputation and the integrity of the work of the EOJ as it relates to election administration, we have been asked at short notice to provide two officials for the delegation to Dominica,” he said.
Brown added that it is always considered an honour to be asked to participate in election observation missions.
“Participating in this mission not only allows for external certification of Dominica’s elections, but it is a valuable experience for us at the EOJ,” he said.
The Caricom delegation will carry out its functions from December 2 to December 8.
Saint Lucian police deployed to Dominica ahead of general election
Tensions continue to rise in Saint Lucia’s sister island, Dominica, as December 6 elections draw near.
The turmoil caused by protesters has sanctioned the assistance of St Lucia’s law enforcement – Minister for National Security Hermangild Francis says there will be deployment of some of the nation’s best and brightest to aid Dominica in its time of political unrest.
Dominica’s opposition United Workers Party says the possibility of electoral fraud mandates the pause of the election.
Supporters of the party have taken to the streets in various acts of protest which have included clashes with law enforcement and mounting of burning roadblocks.
Francis says St Lucia will play its part in encouraging peaceful regional stability by assisting the politically divided Dominica. He said that considering both St Lucia and Dominica are members of the Regional Security System (RSS), Saint Lucia is duty-bound to provide assistance to Dominica during its time of civil unrest.
“I have already discussed this matter with the prime minister and we have agreed to assist Dominica with a number of officers.”
Senator Francis says it is unclear to him how many officers will be deployed to Dominica, but estimates it will be around eight.
“Because of our own situation here, we couldn’t allow our serving officers to go so we have asked some officers who are on vacation if they are so kind to come back over, they would be paid for their vacation and will be given allowances which they have agreed to,” Senator Francis declared.
Sources reveal to Loop News that St Lucian law enforcement will be sent to Dominica on Tuesday, December 3, 2019.
Additionally, High Court judge Bernie Stephenson will be delivering his ruling on the court matter brought up by Concerned Citizen Movement (CCM) to issue an injunction to delay the December 6th elections.