JUDGEMENT DAY: Dominica Prime Minister to know his fate

Prime_MiniterROSEAU, Dominica, CMC – Former Acting Chief Justice of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Supreme Court, Sir Brian Alleyne, said Monday that Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has at least two options available to him should the High Court uphold election petitions filed by two defeated opposition candidates in the last general election.

High Court judge Gertel Thom is due to deliver the judgement on Tuesday in the dual citizenship case brought against Prime Minister Skerrit and his Education Minister Petter Saint Jean by the leader of the United Workers Party (UWP), Ron Green and Maynard Joseph.

The two opposition politicians are asking the court to declare that both Skerrit and Saint Jean were illegally nominated to contest the December 2009 general election because they held dual citizenship at the time.

Senior Counsel Anthony Astaphan, who is representing the two government ministers, has already indicated that if the decision goes against his clients he would appeal and also seek a stay of execution while the appeal is pending.

In an interview aired on the website “Dominica News Online”, Sir Brian said that if the decision goes against the leader of the ruling Dominica Labour Party (DLP), he would “lose his position as member of parliament and therefore as prime minister and that could make a significant change in the whole scenario.

“ But inevitably, and Astaphan has already indicated that, they will not only file an appeal but file for a stay of execution which would mean that the status quo would be preserved and Skerrit would continue as parliamentary representative if they succeed in that application”.

Sir Brian, who also served here as an attorney general in a Dominica Freedom Party (DFP) led administration, said while such a stay could be allowed, his personal opinion is that it should not be granted.

“In the circumstances it would not be the right thing to do, it would not be within legal principle and would be erroneous, but it could happen.

“You know judges differ, people have different approaches to things,” he said, adding “but of course my opinion is just my opinion”.

The prominent Caribbean jurist said that if the stay of execution is granted, Prime Minister Skerrit also has the option of dissolving parliament and calling fresh general elections.

“If he wants to ensure the preservation of his position, and I am sure I am not giving him advice, I am sure he has already worked that out, he would then dissolve parliament, call an election and hope to win again.

“The alternative is to await the outcome of the appeal and work from there, but that would put in a somewhat vulnerable position, because if he lost the appeal that would be the end of it for him,” he said.

Sir Brian said that if Prime Minister Skerrit is victorious on Tuesday, then “everything continues as is”.

But he predicted that “Dominica would continue to be under tremendous controversy, if you like the war of words that is going on now would continue”.

Asked whether or not the “war of words would continue regardless of the outcome of the legal battle, Sir Brian replied “well in some sense, yes, but if there is a change in government there could very well be a change in policy.

“I don’t know who would succeed Skerrit as prime minister and I don’t know what that person’s position might be,” he said, noting that if the stay of execution is not granted, the DLP has a significant majority in the Parliament.

“The new prime minister might decide to assist Skerrit and dissolve parliament anyhow, or he might decide I have it now and let me hold it, that’s a possibility,” Sir Brian said.

Asked what he thought would be best for Dominica in the prevailing environment, Sir Brian said that recently he had advocated that what the government “needs to do in relation to all these controversies is to come clean, give the facts”.

He said he was also supportive of a Commission of Inquiry into the passport issue and other matter “provided that it is properly manned and well set up….”.

“A lot of the allegations are highly credible and supported by what looks like sound evidence. So to dismiss it as pure propaganda is to me kind of childish, rather than facing the facts, facing the issues and coming out with evidence on both sides.

“So it is rather childish to just dismiss it as propaganda,” he added.

CMC/2012

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