The Commonwealth Observer Group has presented its preliminary findings on the 6 December general elections in the Republic of Dominica.
The findings of the Group’s observation concluded that election day and the pre-election atmosphere were largely peaceful and voters were free to exercise their franchise, the results of which are a collective will of those who voted. They also commended Electoral Office and its staff on their performance during the electoral process.
However, the Group noted that while wholly consistent with the Constitution, the announcement of the snap elections on 6 November created certain challenges for some stakeholders with opposition parties taking the decision to boycott the elections, due to the alleged lack of progress on electoral reform.
Issuing the Group’s interim statement in Roseau, Hon. Amina Mohamed, Chairperson of the Group and former Kenyan Cabinet Secretary, appreciated the cooperation and assistance received throughout the Group’s mission. She added:
“The Group commends and congratulates all Dominicans who participated peacefully in an important civic exercise. The Group also congratulates the election authorities and polling staff, the political parties, candidates, the police, and candidates’ agents for their respective roles in ensuring the success of the electoral process.
“It is the Group’s hope and expectation that the peaceful atmosphere that characterised Election Day will prevail. All Dominicans, especially political parties, candidates, and their supporters, are encouraged to continue to show magnanimity and uphold their commitments to peace, in a spirit of national unity and solidarity.”
The Group was particularly impressed by the large number of women and youth who participated in the electoral process, not only as candidates and voters but also as polling staff, party agents, and witnesses/observers.
Acknowledging concerns expressed about the process of drawing up the Voters’ List as well as the procedures for checking the eligibility of citizens living abroad, the Group also reported that while there is room for improvement in verifying the identity of voters, no challenge to voter identity was observed at polling stations.
The Group arrived in Roseau on 1 December, at the invitation of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, and were deployed across the country to observe all aspects of the election process including the pre-election environment, the opening of polling stations, the voting process, and the counting of ballots. They were preceded by an advance Commonwealth Observer Team that has been in the country since 28 November.
The comprehensive final report, which will set out the full findings on the entire election process, will be submitted to the Commonwealth Secretary-General and thereafter shared with the Government of Dominica, the Electoral Office, political parties, and all Commonwealth governments, before being made public. The final report will also offer several recommendations for consideration to contribute toward the deepening of democracy and strengthening future electoral processes.
The Commonwealth Observer Group members are:
Hon. Amina Mohamed – Chairperson
Former Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Heritage and Culture and former Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs
Hon. Liberata Mulamula
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs
United Republic of Tanzania
Prof. Praja Trivedi
Mr Ian Hughes
Assistant Chief Electoral Officer of Elections Commission
Antigua and Barbuda
Mrs Wyvolyn Patterson