Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has indicated that the court challenge which the opposition has filed against the results of the 2019 general elections, could cost the DLP government about $2.5 million in court fees. He said the court proceedings will be a distraction to development efforts in the country and a burden on the treasury.
The opposition United Workers Party (UWP) has filed ten election petitions challenging the results in the constituencies of St. Joseph, Mahaut, Morne Jaune, La Plaine, Castle Bruce, Salybia, Roseau Valley, Roseau Central, Roseau South and Wesley.
The UWP’s challenge is based on the party’s belief that there were numerous voting irregularities during the 2019 general elections in Dominica and consequently, the party insists that the elections were not free and fair.
However, Skerrit said recently called on the “proud citizens” of this country to condemn the decision by the opposition.
According to him, depending on how far the cases go, it is estimated that this will cost the government about $2.5 million in court fees.
“There have been 10 petitions filed in the courts of Dominica challenging election results in 10 constituencies in Dominica. That is part of the democratic process and I respect that, but I would have thought that we would have put the election results behind us, put the election campaign at the back of us and focus on the development of Dominica,” he remarked.
The prime minister added, “Now we have to be distracted with engaging lawyers…all sorts of vexatious and sensational matters that we have to spend time reading instead of focusing on the reclassification exercise within the public service to give public servants a better deal, instead of focusing on the international airport and the construction of the cruise village and the new cruise port, instead of focusing on the modernisation of agriculture and even with regard to the electoral reform agenda.”
Skerrit explained that while the labour party has engaged its own lawyers, “the ten colleagues of mine, their legal fees won’t be paid by the treasury, but there are other people who are officers of the public service who have to be represented and paid for by the treasury of Dominica.”
“For anybody to want to question the results of elections in Dominica when everybody, including the Organization of the American States [OAS] who had the original intention to declare the election to be not to be free and fair, tell you that you cannot get as free and fair elections like what happened on December 6th that happened in Dominica anywhere else in the world,” Skerrit remarked.
Skerrit said he hopes that everyone would all join hands in this country to help build a dynamic and just Dominica.
“And if we say that we are all committed to Dominica, then what all the fighting is about?” he asked. “The elections should be really one day and we use the rest of the five years to work together to build Dominica.”
He added, “In the next few weeks I must find $18 million to send to the 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 courts that I must pay this and I must pay that, then I have to focus on this.” he stressed.
The general election was held on Friday 6th, December 2019, with the Dominica Labour Party (DLP) obtaining a landslide victory with 18 seats out of 21 while the UWP secured the remaining 3.