Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit goes on trial on Monday
By the TDN Wire Team
September 1, 2011 10:30 a.m.
Roseau, Dominica (TDN) — The highly anticipated case involving the legality of Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit and Education Minister Peter St Jean will be heard at the High Court in Roseau on Monday, September 5, 2011.
Skerrit goes before the courts to argue his legality to contest the last general election.
Coming more than 20 months after the last general elections in Dominica the court will determine whether Prime Minister Skerrit and his education minister illegally contested the December 2009 elections.
At issue is whether Skerrit and St Jean were dual citizens at the time of the elections. Dominica election laws clearly forbid anyone taking part in general elections to have allegiance to any other country.
Both Skerrit and St Jean were said to be holders of French passports at the time of the elections. The court petitions were filed by the opposition United Workers Party (UWP) within the 21 day period after the elections, as allowed for under the Constitution.
The issue first surfaced just days before nomination day for the last election. At the time Skerrit famously declared that “no law, not even the constitution can prevent me from contesting the election.”
This will be the fourth time that the petitions will come before the court, which has prompted many to accuse the court of dragging their feet and failing to deal with an issue, which under the laws of Dominica had to be filed within 21 days of the elections being held.
The petitions were filed by the UWP in January 2010 and first heard by the court on March 16, 2010. At that time it was postponed for June 17 and further delayed until May 2011. In May it was rescheduled for September 5, 2011.
The UWP accuses Skerrit of becoming a French citizen in 2007 even while he was Prime Minister. Skerrit for his part maintains that he was conveyed with French citizenship as a child, which makes him not in violation of Dominica’s election laws.
If the petitions are upheld, the Court could order the two to vacate their positions as parliamentary representatives of their respective constituencies.
It may very well be that the very same Constitution so openly derided by Skerrit in December of 2009 will be used to determine whether or not he continues as Dominica’s Prime Minister.