Mon | Jan 20, 2020

Skerrit condemns election petitions

Published:Monday | January 13, 2020 | 12:38 AM
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit during the election campaign.

ROSEAU, Dominica (CMC):

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit says it will cost an estimated EC$2.5 million (one EC dollar = US$0.37 cents) in legal fees to defend the 10 election petitions filed by the main opposition United Workers Party (UWP) challenging the outcome of the December 6 general elections last year.

Skerrit, speaking on the state-owned DBS radio, said that while it is the democratic right of the failed candidates to bring the court action, the funds would have been better utilised in the “dynamic” development of the island, given that regional and international observers that monitored the poll had declared it free and fair and representative of the will of the population.

Skerrit led his ruling Dominica Labour Party (DLP) to a fifth consecutive victory at the polls, winning 18 of the 21 seats in the Parliament. He also became the first prime minister here to win four consecutive general elections.

But the UWP filed election petitions contesting the results in 10 constituencies.

UWP leader Lennox Linton, one of three party members to win seats in the election, told a UWP thank-you rally “one of the plans on which we are moving forward is a court challenge and we are in the process now of assembling the evidence working with our legal team, but our struggle, our protest action for rights in Dominica must continue.

“The protest is very simple; electoral reform and fresh elections,” he said, insisting nonetheless that the three seats won by the party in the election were done free and fair and within the constitutional laws of the island,” he added.

Skerrit told radio listeners that “in one of the petitions, a guy is saying that he wanted to be an independent candidate but when he went to get nominated the place was closed already”.

“That’s one of the grounds for challenging a constituency. It is really laughable, but that is going to cost the Treasury $2.5 million.

“We have to pay for our students studying at universities some EC$18 million (and) in the next few weeks. I must find EC$18 million to send to schools in America and The University of the West Indies to pay for our students studying, and if I have a legal obligation in the court that I must pay this and I must pay that, I have to focus on this,” he added.

Skerrit said that Dominicans who are concerned about the welfare of the island “must condemn these things,” adding, “this cannot be about partisanship, we have to stand for our country.”

No date has yet been set for the start of hearing the petitions.