Leader of the United Workers Party, Honorable Lennox Linton has expressed his concerns toward bribery and treating as it relates to general elections.
On Wednesday 23rd May 2019, the Electoral Office of Dominica partnered with the Dominica State College and the University of the West Indies Open Campus Dominica to host a panel discussion on the topic, “The Electoral Process : The Way Forward”.
The panelists included Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Gerald Burton, as well as the the Attorney General, Levi Peter and Minister for foreign Affairs and CARICOM Affairs, Senator Francine Baron who both represented the Government of Dominica.
Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Honorable Linton, was accompanied by Senator for the United Workers Party, Felix Thomas.
During his twenty-minute presentation, Linton mentioned that there had been cases where citizens were in fact bribed or treated to exercise their voting rights in Dominica.
“We have seen the consideration of huge sums spent on airline and fairy tickets to corrupt the votes of overseas nationals. We have seen huge sums spent on bringing in foreign artists under the watchful electoral commission that refuses to act to prevent fraudulent manipulation of the electoral system, even though it is fully aware of the applicable laws against these practices. Laws of England says that the payment or promise of payment to a voter of his travelling expenses on condition; express or imply that he would vote for a particular candidate is bribery,” he expressed.
Linton went on to say, “The Commonwealth Electoral Commission concluded that the 2014 elections were free but not necessarily fair due to “multiple instances of treating and bribery including the transportation of electors to vote.”
Meanwhile, Attorney General, Levi Peter explained that according to the laws of Dominica, the circumstances presented by Linton cannot be considered bribery or treating, however it is based on principle.
“It is no more bribery to carry a ‘parro’ [vagrant] from somewhere around Roseau to a polling station than it is to assist somebody to come from Guadeloupe or Martinique or the United States to vote. It is not about values; it is about whether the principle is at risk. The principle is that if somebody gives someone a ticket to come to vote or persuade the person to vote, otherwise than that person would not have voted, that would be an offense. However, if someone assists somebody to come from point A to point B to vote and the person is voting exactly how they were then that is not bribery… it’s the law,” Peter expounded.
The AG also made it clear that the General Elections in Dominica has always been free and fair since the country gained independence in 1978.