When the Fifth Meeting of the First Session of the Eleventh Parliament gets underway at 10:00am on Wednesday, September 27, 2023, members of the house will be called upon to elect a new President.
The second and final term of Hs Excellency Charles Savarin will end of October 1, 2023 and a new President will be inaugurated on October 2.
The Government of Dominica has nominated career public officer Mrs. Sylvanie Burton for the position. Mrs. Burton is set to be the first woman and first person of Kalinago decent to hold Dominica’s highest office.
A sitting of Parliament to elect a President became necessary when Prime Minister Skerrit informed the Speaker of the House that he and Leader of the Opposition Hon. Jesma Paul-Victor had not agreed on a joint nominee for the position of President.
“I have received a letter form the Hon. Prime Minister, which I shall read. It says that ‘Dear Hon. Speaker, in accordance to Section 19:3 of the Commonwealth of Dominica Constitution Order 1978, I hereby inform you that the Leader of the Opposition and I have been unable to agree on a joint nominee of a candidate for election as President. Signed Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister.’, the Hon. Speaker stated.
Chapter II of the Constitution outlines the procedures to follow once the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition do not agree on a joint nominee.
Parliament will meet again on September 27, where the Government of Dominica will officially nominate Mrs. Sylvanie Burton. Leader of the Opposition Hon. Jesma Paul Victor has given no indication as to who will be nominated by the Opposition.
“If you oppose, then you should have something else to propose. So we look forward to her proposed nominee if she has one, then there will be an election in the next fourteen days. We will come to Parliament so we can have a President Elect who will take up office on the 2nd of October 20223. So today was important. It was a fulfillment of the obligations mandated by the constitution that I inform the Speaker that there is no joint nominee and the Speaker convenes Parliament to inform the Parliament of that situation and advising Parliament of the process involved in the nomination and election of a President for Dominica as per the provisions of the constitution,” Prime Minister Skerrit explained.
The nomination by Government of the first woman and first indigenous person for the position of President has been described as historic. Many have expressed surprise that the Opposition has not supported the nomination.
“It’s unfortunate that she allowed an opportunity to be a part of history to pass her as a woman, and I think that recognizing that our nominee is not only a woman but an Indigenous person. And I think that this has received tremendous regional and international accolades for not only a woman but an indigenous person. Those of us who are students of history understand and appreciate the contributions of Indigenous people to the protection and preservation of our patrimony,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Parliamentary Representative for the Marigot Constituency Hon. Anthony Charles has expressed support for Government’s nominee Mrs. Sylvanie Burton. Hon. Charles is calling for unity in the process of the election of the President.
“It’s not you come with one and you come with one and we agree. I think we should come together, call out some names and pick the best candidate together. We should have a mutual agreement. I have no problem with the young lady. Mrs. Sylvanie Burton is a close family friend, so I have no problem with the candidate, but it’s the process,” Hon. Charles stated.
A person shall be qualified to be nominated for election as President once he or she is a citizen of Dominica, above the age of forty and who at the date of his nomination has been resident in Dominica for five years immediately preceding his or her nomination.