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DSC Lecturer Sanderson suggests an independent committee for review of electoral proposals

Mr Bernard Sanderson

Lecturer at the Dominica State College (DSC) Mr. Bernard Sanderson has called for the setup of an independent committee responsible for evaluating recommendations from the recently held series of consultations on electoral reform, in order to be brought before Parliament.

His call came during an electoral reform consultation held at Marigot last week.

“In order to make these consultations meaningful and to serve the best interest of the people of the country, we need to set up an independent committee which will evaluate the recommendations from those consultations and put together a report of proposals for submission to Parliament,” he said.

According to Mr. Sanderson, after these consultations, it would be hypocritical and a betrayal of trust for the Attorney General, Levi Peter and the rest of the Dominica Labour Party (DLP) leadership to decide on their own what sort of electoral reform proposals should be submitted to Parliament for approval.

“The electoral system that we come up with should be one that entrusts that we do not facilitate treating, bribery, dishonesty and injustice,” he remarked.

Furthermore, Mr. Sanderson said the Labour Party government depends heavily on the use of voters overseas to remain in power.

“And that is why the Labour Party leadership is determined to prevent the kind of electoral reform that will ensure that voters from overseas do not interfere with the outcome of elections,” he argued.

He explained that under the present legislation, a citizen of Dominica who has been away for more than five years and returns to Dominica two months before the elections will not be allowed to vote because of the three-month residency requirement.

“However, a Commonwealth citizen, a citizen of another country who has been resident on island for 12 months will be allowed to vote,” Sanderson explained.

He continued, “In this case, it is clear that Commonwealth citizens are allowed to vote because of the satisfaction of a residency requirement. But the Dominican citizen is not allowed to vote because of the failure to satisfy that residency requirement.”

Mr. Sanderson went on to state that voting is about governance.

“We vote to elect representatives to represent us…so it is against the spirit of the constitution and undemocratic and… injustice to voters who reside out of Dominica to be allowed to return here to determine the outcome of the elections in favour of a particular party,” he remarked.

Meanwhile, he agreed that in order to restore the independence of the electoral commission there should be a restructuring.

“My suggestion is that membership should increase from five to seven,” Mr. Sanderson advised.” One nominee from the ruling party, one nominee from the opposition and the other five nominees should come from private sector organizations, religious organizations, the bar association and labour union,” Mr. Sanderson suggested.