President emphasises the importance of a Leader of the Opposition

Roseau, Dominica–February 11, 2010…… The President of Dominica, His Excellency, Dr. Nicholas Liverpool, D.A.H, O.C.C has emphasised the importance of a Leader of the Opposition under the Commonwealth of Dominica Constitution.

The President also elaborated on the powers vested in the President in the absence of a Leader of the Opposition.

The President was at the time addressing members of Parliament on the occasion of the First Meeting of the First Session of the Eight Parliament on Thursday, February 4, 2010.

“Recognition of the right of organized and responsible dissent has led those who framed our Constitution to the acceptance of the principle that a special parliamentary status be conferred on the elected member of the House who commands the support of the majority of the elected members who do not support the Government. This individual is potentially the next Prime Minister. The fact that one has not yet been appointed should not prevent us from acknowledging the importance of the office of the Leader of the Opposition,” Dr Liverpool stated.

The President added that “constitutionally and by convention, the Leader of the Opposition enjoys a status which enables that person to have a say in matters of State; and this carries with it the expectation that the Prime Minister will consult him from time to time on important problems of national concern.” These concerns include constitutional change, electoral reform, territorial integrity, environmental protection and climate change and regional and sub-regional integration.

The President also explained what the constitution provides for in the absence of a Leader of the Opposition.

“If an occasion arises when no person is both qualified and willing to accept appointment as Leader of the Opposition, the Constitution empowers the President to act in his own deliberate judgement on any matter in which he is required to act on the advice of, or after consultation with, the Leader of the Opposition.”

Dr Liverpool stressed that always “the population would expect of you an even greater sense of magnanimity, responsibility and good judgement than would otherwise prevail.”

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