The opposition UWP to boycott budget presentation to Dominica parliament
@ 7:30 p.m.
The United Workers Party (UWP) says they will not be present on Wednesday when Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit presents the 2011/12 budget to Parliament.
Opposition Leader Hector John.
According to UWP leader Ron Green his party will continue its boycott of Parliament in protest over government’s failure to make provisions for electoral reform in the budget.
Green urged his supporters to instead come out in protest outside of Parliament building in Roseau. The protests are aimed at calling attention to government’s refusal to put in place electoral reform.
The UWP is on record as saying that they will not contest the next general elections, constitutionally due in 2014, if there is no electoral reform. Topping their demand is the need to clean the voters list and issue voter I.D. cards to potential voters.
Prime Minister Skerrit recently announced that his government has no interest in issuing voter ID cards but will instead make available a national ID card.
Dominica is one of only a handful of Caribbean countries without voter ID cards. In its report following the 2009 elections in Dominica, the Organization of American States (OAS) said the following: “Dominica is one of the few remaining countries in the Caribbean without a voter identification card. In the past, both party leaders and electoral authorities have recommended issuing a card; indeed, this appears to remain an issue in which there exists a consensus that cuts across party lines.
“ Despite an estimated population of 69,000 persons, the voter registry in Dominica contains approximately 65,000 names. While the disproportionate number can be attributed to the many Dominicans living outside the country, the list also contains names of people who have deceased or have moved out of the country and have not returned.
“The Mission recommends that the newly elected Government, in consultation with the Opposition and the Electoral Commission, consider the implementation of an identification card system. Providing cards to registered voters of Dominica will facilitate the complete revision and updating of the voter registry. The Mission therefore strongly recommends that voter ID cards be issued in time for the next general elections.
The UWP has accused the Skerrit government of voter irregularities in the last election and say that the introduction of voter ID cards will prevent a recurrence of what happened the last time.
This is not the first time the UWP has called for a boycott of Parliament. In 2010, the three elected opposition MPs stayed away from Parliament forcing the government to call new elections in two of the three constituencies. Both opposition leader Hector John and former Prime Minister Edison James easily won reelection.