DOMINICA-POLITICS-Attorney General says he is willing to hear Opposition views on electoral reform

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Attorney General Levi Peter says the Dominica government remains open to discussions with opposition legislators on legislation aimed at reforming the island’s electoral process.
Peter, speaking in the Parliament here on Tuesday night, said the legislation had been circulated in May last year “and it is open to them to engage the government on the areas they claim they have issue with.
“I am not entirely clear what it is they claim,” he told legislators, adding that what is clear is that the legislation “would address in my submission entirely the introduction of identification cards to the satisfaction of any reasonable person.
“I think it addresses all the other matters. It even goes as far as addressing new issues, for example access to the polling booth by appropriate observers and others”.
Speaking at a recent national consultation on electoral reform here, Opposition Leader Lennox Linton told the audience that his United Workers Party (UWP) was adamant that “we will not have another election in Dominica without electoral reform.”
Linton told the consultation that while political parties here contest elections, they are not responsible for the conduct of these elections.
“That responsibility has been passed in our Constitution to the independent Electoral Commission and it is the role and function of that commission to ensure that the system before elections is in place and that the election results are a true, honest reflection of the popular will, the will of the people”.
He said that the UWP has been calling for electoral reform since May 2005 and that with the island gearing for a general election within the next two years, there were issues such as fixed date for elections and identification cards that needed to be sorted out.
Linton said that the reform should take into consideration the issue of overseas voting.
“The law provides that if you have been living outside of Dominica for more than five years then your name should be struck from the register… vote where you live,” Linton said.
“If you are voting in America, if you are voting in England or you are voting in Canada because that is where you have taken up residence, leave the voting in Dominica to those of us who reside here.”
But Peter told legislators that the opposition “if they are serious must stop this pretence that they want electoral reform and if they truly want electoral reform they need to get on board the train to ensure that the drafts that are here are passed.
“If they have issues with particular provisions I am entirely happy to receive in written form what those concerns are or indeed to meet with any of the members of the opposition to hear what their views are and if they have merit then I am sure I will be happy to pass those views on to the government.
“But up until now, I daresay that largely what I am hearing from the Opposition is with the greatest of respect mischief making, not a serious attempt address electoral reform,” he added.

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