Representatives of the Private Sector, namely the DAIC and the DHTA, met with the President of the Commonwealth of Dominica by invitation on Wednesday, 20th November, 2019 at the State House.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the current situation leading up to the General Elections with a view to preserving the peace and tranquility of the country in the days leading up to the General Elections and the period thereafter.
Also in attendance at the meeting at the request of the President were the Honourable Attorney General and the Chief Parliamentary Counsel. The President addressed the current climate of unease, the recent violence within the context of a call for Electoral Reform and other matters, and asked for feedback and discussion on current events.
He also confirmed that this was part of a wider process of engagement with community based organizations and key stakeholders in moderating the risk of conflict creating anarchy into and beyond general elections. He pointed out that the parliament had been dissolved and a date fixed for elections in accordance with the provision of the constitution.
There was consensus that the right to protest is a fundamental constitutional entitlement but such rights need to be exercised within the confines of the law. Violent acts against fellow citizens and law enforcement officers, destruction of public and private property, and general social disorder should be discouraged and condemned. Consensus was established that more information should be disseminated on the current state of the electoral process to educate the general public about the practicality and legitimacy of calls for electoral reform after the dissolution of Parliament and the fixing of the date for the holding of elections which is December 6th, 2019.
The private sector emphasized to the President the importance of engaging the media houses and where possible to identify the leadership of the protesters with a view to holding a meeting if possible, to further sensitize all involved as to the balance between peaceful protest and the continuance of the electoral process. There were also concerns expressed about the language being used in the public domain by all parties leading up to the election, and for the moderation of provocative language targeted to inflame the public and voters.
The conclusion from all represented is that, notwithstanding healthy political differences within and outside civil organisations and the general society, violence must not take place given the repercussions for the wider society and the business sector.