Dominicans are casting their votes in national elections today.
They are deciding whether Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit and the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) get another term in office; or whether Lennox Linton and his United Workers Party (UWP) will get the mandate.
Dominica PM Roosevelt Skerritt is hoping for another term in office
74, 895 persons are eligible to cast ballots at the 255 polling stations across the country. The polls opened at 7 this morning, and should close—as scheduled—at 5 pm.
Thus far, there have been no indications of anything untoward happening.
This, after protests marred the pre-polling day climate, up to as late as yesterday.
The opposition United Workers Party (UWP) has been staging protest demonstrations in two constituencies over the past few days, demanding electoral reform.
UWP political leader, Lennox Linton, hopes to win the mandate this time
Around four o’clock on Thursday morning, protesting villagers in Salisbury had a dust up with security forces and were tear-gassed. The action reportedly involved regional security service personnel.
The opposition condemned that action, describing it as “a chemical warfare assault” on residents in the area.
T&T attorney at law, Keith Scotland, who was recently in Dominica for a court matter, says the protest action which recently occurred is not the norm.
“What is happening now is something that was strange for Dominica," he told us. “By the start of this week, protests increased, and particularly from the airport in the Marigot area. There were heightened protests. In order to go to the airport, roads were blocked; and in order to come from the airport, the same road blockages obtained.”
According to Keith Scotland, the police and security forces appeared to exercise a great deal of restraint, in order to control and contain the protesting crowds.
Within recent times, there has been some unrest in two key strongholds of the opposition—Salisbury and Marigot.
However, yesterday, Marigot residents were seen clearing the roads of blockages from recently held protests, to ensure that they could vote unencumbered in today’s general election.
Election officials were able to make the necessary preparations in the constituency for the elections.
Election observers ready themselves in advance of today's elections in Dominica
Also, a last ditch plan to have the elections halted via court injunction failed, when judges on the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court ruled that the court “will not disturb the decision of the trial judge”. A High Court judge had ruled previously that the court does not have the jurisdiction to grant an injunction to stop the elections.
Members of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court ruled against granting an injunction to stop today's national elections in the Commonwealth of Dominica
Because of the recent elections-related unrest, the US and Canada have issued travel advisories against the country, and cruise lines and one airline have decided not to go there until after the elections are over.
Fond Cole constituents wait their turn to cast their vote in today's elections in Dominica
Story by JESSIE-MAY VENTOUR
Images courtesy DOMINICA NEWS ONLINE