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The electorate showed their expectations in the result

The electorate showed their expectations in the result

November 22, 2019

There aren’t many who think of the seriousness, or of the importance of the election of men and women who will represent and lead them in the affairs of governing them and their land.

But when one reads the following from one of a series of articles which have appeared in TMR over the past several months, again it would take those interested in the seriousness and the reality of the men and women of whom this refers to understand that a general election is indeed a serious thing.

The few lines read: “…if our “permanent government” – the senior civil service – is “not fit for purpose” (as former Governor Carriere said in an unguarded, frank moment) then we are going to be hampered every step of the way by lack of capacity, foot-dragging, outright incompetence, and even corruption. And if many candidates for election are cut from the same roll of cloth,[1] that will only multiply the problem.

“For elections to work, we need to have a choice of credible, competent, good-character candidates with sound policy proposals, and if policies are to be implemented, our senior civil service will need drastic reforms led by Cabinet. We will have to fix the DfID-FCO side of the problem, too.“

This part of the problem is why, over the past several years, months and weeks, here at TMR we have looked at the needed Charter of Good Governance and Development Partnership MoU with the UK; which have actually been on the table for several years but were obviously road-blocked. Such agreements and such Resolutions of our Assembly would give us tools to drain the murky waters so beloved of swamp-dwelling chaos-dragons . . . that’s how they can lurk in ambush.

A capacity-building component would help us build a new generation of policy and political leadership. The creation of a priority transformational programme with agreed “catalytic” infrastructure-building projects supported by designated expediters and sound PRINCE2-style governance systems would then move us beyond the stop, study, start, stop, restudy pattern. For sure, without a protected seaport, without an improved airport, without fibre optic cable digital access and without developed geothermal energy, we are a poor investment and growth prospect.

We would like to offer that although towards the end of the PDM government’s term in office the Legislature was divided 5-4 just as the incoming MCAP government will experience, it is in many ways not the same as that experienced by the former MCAP government of 2009-2014. The Reuben T Meade’s government had three newcomers to his government to the six members at the beginning but ended up with two newbies as this government begins with. This government has four experienced parliamentarians in opposition.

The expectations for this new MCAP team can be reflected in the outcome of the election particularly that during this campaign there were some very key issues that were barely mentioned if at all. Good knowledge of all of which will be very vital to any future success or progress that this struggling island could enjoy.

We hope to take the lead in bringing these seriously to the fore in a brand new and hopefully challenging way as the early months of this new Legislature’s reign.


[1] TMR: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/we-need-a-new-politics-of-truth-soundness-and-national-consensus/

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Dominica Labour Party wins general election

By Peter Richards

ROSEAU, Dominica, Dec 7, CMC – The ruling Dominica Labour Party (DLP) increased its majority in the 21-member House of Assembly by two seats after it won Friday’s general election, according to the preliminary results released by the Electoral Commission on Saturday.

It said that the DLP, which won its fifth consecutive term in government, won 17 of the 21 seats while the main opposition United Workers Party (UWP) saw its seat allocation declined to four from six in the previous legislature.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, 47, who also became the first head of government to win a fourth consecutive term in office, comfortably retained the Vielle Case seat, north of here, which he has been representing in Parliament since 2000.

Skerrit polled 1,105 votes to comfortably brush aside the UWP’s newcomer Clement Marcellin, who received 228 votes.

Skerrit’s wife, Melissa Popone Skerrit, now joins the wives of the prime ministers of Antigua and Barbuda and Jamaica, who have all successfully contested general elections for the first time.

She won the Roseau Central seat securing 1,056 votes as against 866 for the UWP’s Glenroy Cuffy.

The UWP held on to the Roseau North constituency, where Danny Lugay held off a challenge from former UWP member, Joseph Isaac, who following the 2014 general election switched to the DLP. But the party was not successful in retaining the Roseau South seat, where its former deputy leader, Joshua Francis was trounced by newcomer Shakira Lockhart by 2,214 to 1,915 votes.

Opposition Leader Lennox Linton, who retained the Marigot constituency, polled 728 votes to stave off a challenge from newcomer Gregory Reviere, a former national calypso monarch, who polled 423 votes.

The UWP had contested the election complaining of the need for electoral reform and in his broadcast to the nation soon after claiming victory, Prime Minister Skerrit said the issue will be among the first priorities of his new administration.

“He said that it is important to move beyond the legal and other controversies that marred the general election and begin the process of reform that satisfies the national interest.

“Having reflected on this issue, it is my intention to invite a renowned Caribbean jurist to lead a National Commission on Electoral Reform.

“The work of that Commission, added to all the previous consultancy and election reports from various international organisations, together with the decision of the Courts, will inform the shape of Dominica’s electoral reform,” Skerrit said.

He said public hearings will be held throughout the country and all Dominicans will be able to appear before the Commission and give their views.

“Provisions will be made for anonymous submissions as well as for an open discussion forum on social media sites,” he added.

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Chairman, St. Lucia’s Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has sent a congratulatory message Skerrit on the election that had been monitored by several regional and international organisations, including CARICOM, the Organisation of American States and the Commonwealth.

Chastanet described the victory as “resounding,” adding “the people of Dominica demonstrated their confidence in the policies and leadership of you and your party by returning you for yet another term of office.

“The people have spoken and the results must be accepted in a manner that ensures peace and calm in the country. I look forward to working with the re-elected Government of Dominica in seeking to ensure the goal of a climate-resilient country and region is achieved as we continue to pursue our quest for sustainable development.”

Dominica Election Results

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DOMINICA-ELECTIONS-Roman Catholic Church condemns verbal attacks on Bishop and Cardinal

DOMINICA-ELECTIONS-Roman Catholic Church condemns verbal attacks on Bishop and Cardinal

By Peter Richards

ROSEAU, Dominica, Dec 4, CMC – The Roman Catholic Church Wednesday, condemned the verbal attack on Bishop Gabriel Malzaire and Cardinal Kelvin Felix even as supporters of the main opposition United Workers Party (UWP) continued their fiery protest mainly in the northern section of Dominica ahead of Friday’s general election.

“We, the Catholic Clergy of the Diocese of Roseau consider it an act of disgrace and disrespect not only to head of the Catholic Church in Dominica but to the clergy and the lay faithful as well,” the Church said in a statement, condemning the verbal attack on the two religious officials, who were on their way to the airport.

Cardinal Kelvin Felix

“While we recognize the dissatisfaction and passion associated with the issue of electoral reform and political positions in general, we believe that there are more humane and civil methods of expressing concerns and resolving conflicts,” it said, adding that Bishop Malzaire and Cardinal Felix were “subjected to insults and embarrassing questions”.

The protesters have been calling for electoral reform including the issuance of picture identification cards, and a cleansing of the electoral lost and in the statement, the Roman Catholic Church said that

It had spoken on “numerous occasions” about electoral reform.

It recalled a statement made by Bishop Malzaire in his New Year’s Day homily in which he said “of concern to many here in Dominica, especially during the past days is the issue of electoral reform.

“It is a long-standing issue which is impacting and affecting our society.  It is imperative therefore that those responsible, move with some alacrity to see that all is put in place for the appearance of free and fair General Elections, which are due this year.  Brothers and sisters, we are duty-bound to do all in our power to maintain a just and peaceful society,” Bishop Malzire said then.

The statement said that more recently, the head of the Catholic Church made reference to the Code of Conduct prepared by the Dominica Christian Council and the Association of Evangelical Churches, reminding the population “our duty as clergy is to recognize that our basic obligation is to promote unity in our communities,” and “to refrain from saying or doing anything likely to be interpreted as partisan politics”.

Meanwhile, soldiers attached to the Barbados-based Regional Security System (RSS) have arrived here to assist in maintaining law and order.

But Thomas Letang, a member of the Electoral Reform Group here, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that the presence of the RSS members would not solve the issue. Because they can’t be here forever.

“If people believe that the way you solve the problems in respective countries is by bringing guys in uniform to really get people scared that itself has to be revisited. What you want is to look at the cause of the problem and to address that problem.

“I am saying what is happening in Dominica now, if the government had listened to people and had done something about electoral reform there would have been no need to bring any regional security force here to do anything,” he said, taking also a swipe at the regional integration movement, CARICOM.

“I always say to myself what it is that these guys discuss when they meet at this table,” he said, noting that “while Dominicans were making noise for electoral reform, CARICOM said nothing,” he added.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, who is seeking an unprecedented fourth consecutive term in office, has criticised the UWP and called on its leader, Lennox Linton, to publicly condemn the acts of violence that have so marred the campaign for the elections.

Skerrit is leading the Dominica Labour Party (DLP)  and he told party supporters on Tuesday night that the protests are part of the opposition strategy to disrupt the polls.

“They can try what they want, they can do what they want, they can jump high, they can jump low, there will be elections in Dominica on December 6.”

The United States in a statement on Wednesday said that the reports of political violence in Dominica in recent weeks “are incongruent with the history of stable parliamentary democracy in the Eastern Caribbean.

“Free, fair, and transparent elections are hallmarks of any good democracy and an indication of good governance and leadership.  Equally so, the conduct of peaceful campaigns, rallies, and demonstrations beforehand and the acceptance of the will of the people after a fair vote are intrinsic parts of democracy,” Washington said in a statement issued by its Embassy in Barbados.

The Electoral Commission said it is prepared for the elections on Friday and the Press and Public Education Officer, Elias Dupuis, told CMC that 74, 895 persons are eligible to cast ballots at the 255 polling stations across the country.

He dismissed reports that the Commission had been unable to cleanse the list as called for by the opposition parties saying “with regards to our laws, for any registered elector, it guarantees them the right remain registered until their name is deleted because they would have violated four specific provisions, one of which is the unfortunate case of death.

“Another significant one is the five year limit (in that) you have to be out of Dominica. I understand that much of the contention has been that particular five-year issue but as far as the Electoral Office is concerned we do have to respect the right of any duly registered voter whose name exists on the voters’ list on an election day to be given the right to cast their ballot.

“We are going to ensure that we keep to the law with regards to that and we want to be respectful of anyone’s right to cast their ballot to exercise their franchise,” he said, adding that the laws were created to enfranchise people and not necessarily to disenfranchise people”.

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CARICOM Special Rapporteur wants more access for Persons with Disabilities

CARICOM Special Rapporteur wants more access for Persons with Disabilities

by staff writer

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Dec 3, CMC – the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Special Rapporteur on Disability, Dr. Floyd Morris, Tuesday reiterated a call for access for Persons with Disabilities as the region joined the global community in observing International Day of Disabled Persons.

Morris, who is also the Director of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Centre for Disabilities, said: “if persons with disabilities are to be brought in the mainstream of Caribbean societies the various stakeholders must create greater access to all aspects of Caribbean life for these vulnerable individuals”.

In his message to mark the global event being observed under the theme “The future is accessible,” Morris cited public facilities, public transportation, educational institutions, health care facilities, community centers, sidewalks, theatres, sports complexes, workplaces and other such facilities that must be made accessible for persons with disabilities.

Meanwhile, a 2019 Report of a project to establish a Regional Disability Index, has indicated that while “it is evident that some work is being done to advance the disability agenda, it is not sufficient and strategic enough to radically transform the lives of persons with disabilities in the region”.

According to the Report, countries within the Region must ensure that their programme of work to realise the 2030 agenda for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), for example, include issues relating to persons with disabilities.

The report reiterated that all countries in the Caribbean need to enact legislation to protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities as stipulated by the Convention on the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), (CRPD) and amplified in the Declaration of Petion Ville of 2013”.

With respect to legislation, the report indicates the scorecard to be a mixed one ranging from descriptions such as “some countries having done good work implementing legislative measure” to descriptions which included “fair” or “poor.”

The report noted that the 2013 Declaration of Petion Ville is an important roadmap that has been developed by policy-makers, technocrats and persons with disabilities in the Caribbean to drive the disability agenda. To this end, it called for its adoption and use by all countries to guide their implementation of programmes and policies for persons with disabilities.

According to the World Bank, disability is the result of the interaction between people with different levels of functioning and an environment that does not take these differences into account. In other words, people with physical, sensory or mental limitations are often disabled, not because of a diagnosable condition, but because they are denied access to education, labour markets, and public services.

It said exclusion leads to poverty and, in a vicious circle, poverty leads to more disability by increasing people’s vulnerability to malnutrition, disease, and unsafe living and working conditions.

Statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) indicate that of the more than one billion persons with disabilities living in the world, more than 800 million or approximately 80 percent reside in developing countries.

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Skerritt-and

CARICOM mounts election observation mission to Dominica

P M Roosevelt Skerritt and UWP Leader Lennox Linton

The Caribbean Community will mount a CARICOM Election Observation Mission to monitor the general elections which will be held in the Commonwealth of Dominica on Friday, Dec. 6.

The mission will be headed by Josephine Tamai, Chief Elections Officer, Department of Elections and Boundaries of Belize. Tamai has served as Chief of Mission as well as Deputy Chief of Missions CARICOM Election Observer Missions. She most recently served as a member of the CARICOM Joint Electoral Reform Mission to the Commonwealth of Dominica in August 2019.

The other members of the Mission include experts in Electoral Management and Administration from Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname. The Mission will be supported by Jhonson Alexandre and Helen Marshall of the Foreign and Community Relations Directorate of the CARICOM Secretariat.

Members of the Mission and the CARICOM Secretariat Support Staff began arriving in Dominica on Dec. 2 and will depart by Dec. 9.

The CARICOM Election Observation Mission will meet with the electoral officials, leaders of political parties and other stakeholders of the Commonwealth of Dominica. On the day of the elections, the Mission will monitor the electoral process including the opening of the Poll, the voting process, the closing of the Poll and the counting of the ballots.

The Election Observation Mission will issue a Preliminary Statement based on its observations and findings. A Report of the General Elections will be subsequently prepared and submitted to the Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community. For CARICOM, election observation serves as a platform to support existing democratic traditions within the Caribbean Community as part of its wider policy of supporting democracy.

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Corbyn-2nd-REf2

Johnson seeks to focus UK election on Brexit, not his flaws – UKLParty leader Corbyn defends neutral Brexit stance

The 2019 Montserrat General Elections occupied much of media attention as we at TMR waited and listened for any semblance of interest from our political candidates in the imminent UK General Elections and of course the BREXIT saga which one can say is the main reason why the latest Prime Minister since 2016, Boris Johnson believes is the way to carry forward ‘his’ Brexit effort. There wasn’t any worthwhile mention of these issues which must whichever way they turn out will have an impact on Montserrat as it continues its struggle back to some normal way of existential living. Here we bring some excerpt reporting from what we consider less partial that mainstream media in the UK to the real situation in there and as seen from inside and outside.

By JILL LAWLESS and DANICA KIRKA
LONDON (AP) — Prime Minister Boris Johnson struggled last Friday to move Britain’s election debate away from questions about his character and onto Brexit, promising to bolster protection for British businesses and farmers once the country has left the European Union.

Johnson tried to brush aside criticism of his past comments about single mothers and his current refusal to submit to the same amount of televised scrutiny as other party leaders.

At a news conference, Johnson claimed Brexit had been “delayed, diluted, denied” by obstructive politicians. He said that if the Conservatives won the Dec. 12 election he would take the U.K. out of the European Union on the currently scheduled date of Jan. 31, so that “we can finally move on as a country.”

He touted the alleged benefits that would come with departure from the 28-nation trade bloc, saying his government would introduce new state-aid rules allowing the government to step in to help struggling businesses.

The level of support EU governments can give industries is limited by regulations barring anything that might distort competition.

Johnson also vowed to scrap an EU-required tax on tampons and sanitary pads and introduce a requirement for public bodies to buy British produce rather than imports.

Promising more state intervention in the economy is reminiscent of the left-of-center Labour Party, rather than the free-marketeer Conservatives, and appears designed to help the Tories win over Brexit-backing Labour supporters.

All 650 seats in the House of Commons are up for grabs in the Dec. 12 election, which is being held more than two years early after Parliament became deadlocked over Brexit.

Johnson wants to secure a Conservative majority in the election so he can push through the Brexit divorce deal he negotiated with the EU. Under the terms of that deal, the U.K. would leave the EU on Jan. 31 but remain bound by the bloc’s rules until the end of 2020.

On Friday, Johnson repeated his assertion that Britain and the EU will be able to strike a new free trade deal by the end next year, a timescale trade experts say is wildly ambitious.

“I am full of optimism and confidence and suggest that everybody else should be as well,” he said.

But Johnson also announced plans to diverge from EU rules in significant ways, which would make it harder to retain close trade ties with the bloc. And he said he would not extend the transition period beyond the end of 2020, even if no trade deal was in place.

Economists warn that a no-deal Brexit would plunge Britain into recession and severely impede commerce with the EU, its biggest trading partner.
With most polls showing a double-digit lead for Johnson’s Conservatives and less than two weeks until polling day, the governing party is keen to limit the prime minister’s opportunities for gaffes and slip-ups.

That has led to allegations he is dodging scrutiny. Johnson declined to take part in a debate Thursday alongside his main opponent, Jeremy Corbyn of the Labour Party, and other party leaders, and has so far refused to commit to a one-on-one TV interview with BBC interrogator Andrew Neil.
“I’ve done plenty of debates,” Johnson told radio station LBC on Friday. “I can’t do absolutely everything.”

The Conservatives were also embroiled in a feud with broadcaster Channel 4 over the network’s decision to put an Earth-shaped ice sculpture in place of Johnson after he declined to appear for Thursday’s climate change-themed TV debate.

The party complained to Britain’s broadcast watchdog, Ofcom, over what it called “a provocative partisan stunt.”

Five party leaders took part. Johnson and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage declined to attend and were replaced with melting sculptures atop podiums.

Johnson has faced questions about his character throughout the campaign. The prime minister has a history of making offensive remarks, including a newspaper column last year in which he compared women who wear face-covering veils to “letterboxes.”

This week the Labour Party unearthed an article Johnson wrote in conservative magazine the Spectator in 1995 in which he called the children of single mothers “ill-raised, ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate.”

Asked about those remarks Friday, Johnson said he had written “millions of words” in his career, and “everybody is able to find some they can cull from the texts and twist them and distort them.” He did not distance himself from the comments about single mothers.

Jeremy Corbin

By GREGORY KATZ
LONDON (AP) — Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is defending his decision to remain neutral in a possible future referendum on Britain’s membership in the European Union.

Corbyn said that he plans to be an “honest broker” in a Brexit referendum rather than urge voters to remain in the EU or leave under terms of a new deal he would negotiate if he becomes prime minister after the Dec. 12 election.

He said at a campaign event in Sheffield that “my role as the Labour prime minister would be to ensure that is carried out in a fair way … and that I will carry out the result of that referendum.”

Corbyn announced last Friday night, Nov 22, he would be neutral, a position assailed Saturday by political rivals on both sides of the Brexit divide.

He had been repeatedly challenged by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to clarify his Brexit plan. Labour’s position is more complex than the unabashedly pro-Brexit policy espoused by Johnson and his Conservatives, who seek to win parliamentary approval for the deal already negotiated in order to leave the EU by Jan. 31.

Corbyn says if he comes to power, Labour will negotiate a new deal with EU officials, then put that new deal to voters, who can choose between endorsing it or staying inside the 28-nation EU bloc. He says he plans to let voters decide the proposed referendum without him taking a position as prime minister.

That view was ridiculed on the campaign trail Saturday.

Liberal Democratic leader Jo Swinson called it a total abdication of the prime minister’s responsibility. Her party has vowed to halt Brexit by revoking Article 50, which triggered Britain’s withdrawal process.

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, who advocates an immediate, final break with the EU, said the Labour Party is “bombing” with voters because of Corbyn’s vague position.

Johnson pushed for Britain to hold the December election, which is taking place more than two years early, in hopes of winning a majority and breaking Britain’s political impasse over Brexit. All 650 seats in the House of Commons are up for grabs.

Follow AP’s full coverage of Brexit and British politics at https://www.apnews.com/Brexit

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IMG_78871.1-1

An Election to Reflect on

by Mike Jarvis

The post mortem of Montserrat’s 2019 general election this past Monday, November will be a continuous, clinical examination and talking point for months to come.

It will take some time for the memories to fade, if they ever will, and for the dust to settle, if it ever does.

“Some of the memories are treasures. Some of the dust is toxic.

From the meteoric rise of the election’s main vote-getter Crenston Buffonge of the Movement of Change and Prosperity (MCAP), to why dethroned ex-leader of the People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) Don Romeo did as well as he did will be the topic of extended debate and scrutiny.

The majority vote PDM members changed leadership

Mr. Romeo, dumped from the party, still placed an extremely impressive fourth overall of the top nine vote-getters.

He was only eclipsed by the three ahead of him; one of them his erstwhile PDM party and cabinet colleague, Paul Lewis, who had snatched the party’s leadership from him in an internal no-confidence vote just weeks before the elections – and just days after Romeo had announced the date.

Lewis won that internecine skirmish but lost the subsequent war on the national political battlefield.

The surprise that independent (former PDM top vote-getter from 2014) Dr. Ingrid Buffonge was not in the top nine, and MCAP’s Veronica Dorsette-Hector – a former magistrate – who swept into the parliament at fifth overall in her first political outing, are worthy of note.

So too is the failure of Shirley Osborne, Speaker, PDM insider and daughter of former chief minister John Osborne, to even dent the top twenty.

The list is long and the surprises are many with adequate helpings of commiserations and congratulations to around.

While priority focus must definitely always be on ‘ the issues on the ground’, there are developments in the air, cyberspace to be exact, that facilitate and sometimes even dictate what happens on the ground.

The utilisation and impact of social media on the 2019 elation campaign has underlined how connected – literally and virtually – Montserrat has become.

That the election campaign largely revolved around the UK-funded re-installation of the volcano-destroyed undersea fibre optic cable – along with several other UK and EU-funded infrastructural projects – is noteworthy for what it highlights.

The social-media interaction between residents and the Montserrat global diaspora points to a range of possibilities this global information technology revolution offers to the island.

And, in the case of the 2019 election, it was used to maximum beneficial effect by those who understand its potential.

Many persons in Montserrat admitted (via social-media) to watching the ground-breaking series of political panel discussions organised by the Montserrat Youth Parliament via the live stream on social media.

The sidebar real-time interaction by residents and diaspora during the discussions (they weren’t billed as debates) was another example of the possibilities available.

Regrettably, social media was also exploited for maximum negative impact during the campaign.

Any rush to a return to a state of tranquil paradise normalcy (real or imagined) will be incomplete and counter-intuitive without examining the impact on the body politic.

It should not be that any serious examination of the depths to which some elements of the campaign sank should be glossed over as opening old wounds.

The wounds are fresh, and unless addressed, dressed (as in medical), redressed in some way (as in legal; libel cases are being filed), it will fester while we turn the other way…or bury our collective head in the sand and hope it’s all gone.

That is not healing. That is hiding.

The weaponising of social media emboldened some platform and other behaviours which were then further amplified by being uploaded, streamed and shared on the same social media.

Politics evokes passion. But, out of control, unchecked, ‘scorched-earth’ campaigning, either deliberately planned or opportunistic, causes harm – in ways that might not be intended or otherwise estimated.

The thought that they might be intended…well, that’s one for the courts to address.

And to what end if, in the quest for votes, more than votes are lost in the process?

At a 62% turnout, it might be that the community did not just ‘switch-off’ in the face of such regrettable campaigning amplified and weaponised by the wide reach and accessibility of social-media.

It might very well be that about a third of voters got so turned-off by a series of assaults on not just personal but community senses and sensibilities, that they chose not to turn out.

That would speak volumes for what was possibly the most important general election of a generation, and a turning point in Montserrat’s post-eruption rebuilding.

At a 62% voter turnout, it was more vox paucis but still vox populi.

The few spoke for the many.

Kudos to those who nevertheless went and did their civic duty on behalf of all; resident and diaspora.

You might have only intended to vote for your team, but your ballot was a vote for Montserrat.

Montserrat will have a strong opposition and a strong government.

And it should find the strength to ensure that this tone of campaigning doesn’t recur again. Ever!

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Paul-Lewis-opposition-Leader-2019

Paul Lewis is Leader of H.M. Montserrat’s Opposition

l-r: Donaldson Romeo, Paul Lewis, David Osborne, and Claude Hogan

Paul Lewis has emerged as the Honourable Leader of the Opposition.
He was sworn in on Friday afternoon, few hours after the new ministers of government were installed.

In a brief ceremony held also at the Governor’s Office, Lewis was sworn-in as opposition leader with his appointee members of the Opposition looking on.

Former premier Donaldson Romeo, David Osborne, and Claude Hogan joined him for the occasion. These gentlemen will be sworn in during the first meeting of the Legislative Assembly at a date yet to be determined.
The new Opposition Leader told the press he was ready for the role and looked forward to challenging the government to always implement projects for the good of the people. He is hopeful that the MCAP team will continue the projects his party began.

Former premier Donaldson Romeo told the press he was enjoying his new responsibilities. He plans to focus on establishing non-profit charities in areas where there are primary concentrations of Montserratian nationals in the Diaspora so they can contribute to the island’s development.

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Farrell-from-Spotlight

Rising star Crenston Buffonge helps MCAP dominate Montserrat election; Easton Taylor-Farrell is new Premier

By EDWIN L. MARTIN
https://www.montserratspotlight.com/rising-star-crenston-buffonge-helps-mcap-dominate-montserrat-election-easton-taylor-farrell-is-new-premier/

November 19, 2019

Photo credit: MCAP
MCAP candidates, including top vote-getter Crenston Buffonge, took five of the nine seats during the election.

The person who coined the phrase, “Nice guys finish last,” needs to meet Crenston Buffonge. Because the rising political star has defied that notion in a mighty way.

The personable Buffonge garnered 1,378 votes to lead a victory Monday for the Movement for Change and Prosperity (MCAP) party in the 2019 Montserrat general election. Five MCAP candidates finished in the top nine, claiming the crucial majority needed to ascend party leader Joseph Easton Taylor-Farrell into the role of Premier.

Farrell assumes the helm from Donaldson Romeo, who served from 2014 until October 7, 2019, when terms expired for members of the Legislative Assembly. Romeo, who earned the most votes in the 2014 election, left the People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) following a party vote October 8 that ousted him as leader in favor of Paul Lewis. Two weeks later Romeo announced he will contest the election as an independent candidate.

Lewis earned the second-most votes Monday and Romeo the fourth-most. The former PDM allies now find themselves in the somewhat awkward position of working together as members of the opposition. MCAP will inherit several projects that were approved by the British government during the PDM administration, so it will be interesting to see if an opposition made up of three PDM members, plus a former PDM leader (Romeo), shows resistance to its own attainments.

The new government will be comprised of five MCAP members, three PDM, and one independent.

It’s how you make people feel that they will always remember. Treat all persons fairly and in turn, you will get the reward someday.
Crenston Buffonge

But the big surprise was the rise of Buffonge, a ticketing agent at the Montserrat port who failed to earn a seat as an independent candidate in 2014 but crushed the competition Monday. Buffonge held the top spot consistently as results trickled in Monday evening. He bested second-place finisher Lewis by 127 votes, earning solid support from just about every region of the island.

“If I was to say [I knew] it would turn out that way I’d be lying,” Buffonge told Radio Montserrat about getting the most votes. “I’m overwhelmed by the support and I want to say thank you to everyone who put their trust in me. They’ve showed clearly they have some level of confidence in me and what I can deliver.”

Buffonge says his many years of service, along with his respectful demeanor, helped catapult him with the electorate.

“I’ve been in service for quite a while, since the volcano,” he says. “There is a scripture that says, ‘He that exalts himself shall be humbled and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. That has been my motto. It’s how you make people feel that they will always remember. Treat all persons fairly and in turn, you will get the reward someday.”

Another surprise vote-getter was first-time candidate Veronica Dorsette-Hector, an attorney and former magistrate who was crowned Miss Montserrat during the 1990 festival. The MCAP candidate earned 1,007 votes Monday, fifth-best overall.

Photo credit: MCAP


Easton Taylor-Farrell will become the ninth person to hold the office of Premier or Chief Minister in Montserrat. Two of the nine (John Osborne and Reuben Meade) served two tenures.

● Dr. Ingrid Buffonge, who ran with PDM in 2014 and earned the second-most overall votes, fell short this time as an independent candidate. She earned 861 votes, just 11 behind the No. 9 spot.

“Well it wasn’t meant to be for me,” Buffonge posted on Facebook around 1 a.m. Tuesday when results were still incomplete. “Congratulations to the new MCAP government! The people have spoken.”

● Delmaude Ryan, who ran the colossal Ministry of Education, Health, Social Services, Youth Affairs, Sports and Ecclesiastical Affairs during the PDM administration, earned just 687 votes Monday (she earned 1,205 votes in 2014). Already facing criticism for shortcomings in the health care system, among other issues, Ryan further rankled locals during a recent debate when she stated that “Montserrat is owned by the British government.” She later clarified her remarks, but the damage was done.

● Gregory “Sagga” Willock, another former PDM seat-holder turned opposition member, also failed to resonate with voters five years later. Willock launched his Montserrat National Congress (MNC) “brand” ― borrowing the name from the African National Congress once headed by Nelson Mandela ― but his populist approach and fiery speeches appeared to have grown stale with voters. Some said Willock’s appeal seemed rife with desperation.

The protracted 2019 election season was among the nastiest in memory, with rival supporters exchanging threats and vile insults on social media. The MCAP party even filed a libel suit again a journalist and PDM supporter. The parties traded barbs during contentious rallies and there were jingles, radio ads and other tactics as each group attempted to gain an edge.

But in the end MCAP appeared to be the one that was most unified with a central theme. The party drove its message with a marketing blitz boosted by spiffy posters, screaming billboards, omnipresent radio appearances and a raucous final rally Sunday headlined by Antigua soca artists Tian Winter and Claudette “C.P.” Peters.

“WELL, IT WASN’T MEANT TO BE FOR BE. CONGRATULATIONS TO THE NEW MCAP GOVERNMENT! THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN.”
Dr. Ingrid Buffonge

The Montserrat United Labor Party (MULP) had a disappointing finish in its election debut. The best showing of the five candidates came from Peter Queeley at No. 19 overall.

“The people did not accept the message and the proposals advanced by the MULP,” Queeley posted on Facebook. “I live by the principal [sic] that the voice of the people is the voice of God.”

Many believed a coalition government would be elected, but for the third election cycle in a row constituents opted for the party route.

Also having a disappointing night was former Speaker of the House Shirley Osborne, who earned only 253 votes and failed to join her brother David as a Parliamentarian. Shirley Osborne had a clear grasp of the issues ― plus the iconic Osborne surname ― but she has been dogged by a reputation for being domineering.

“Go Montserrat!!! Congratulations MCAP!” Osborne wrote on Facebook. “Let’s all now see what you got!”

Posted in Elections, International, Local, News, Politics, Regional0 Comments

Dr-Sammy-Joseph-DSC_0239-web

MCAP captures 5 seats to form new government

The MCAP winners and Ministries l-r: Crenston Buffonge, Minister of Agriculture; Dr. Sammy Joseph, Minister of Comms and Works; Premier Easton Taylor Farrell; Veronica Dorsette-Hector, Parliamentary Secretary; and Charles Kirnon, Minister of Education, Health

The 2019 General Elections in Montserrat, with a low turnout of 62% ended what turned to be a narrow victory over People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) for the Movement for Change and Prosperity (MCAP) formed to contest the 2006 general elections which that time they narrowly missed winning only four seats though with the single party with most seats. The voter turnout in 2014 was 71.06% of the 3,866 registered voters. In 2019 only 2411 of the 3858 registered voters turned out to cast their ballots to elect nine of the 35 candidates.

Premier Easton Taylor-Farrell signs to his oath as Premier

For the records and for those who may find it worthwhile for good analysis and future planning, two other parties, New People’s Liberation Movement (NPLM) won three seats, while Montserrat Democratic Party (PDP) took only one seat, the other going to an independent candidate. The five seats joined to form the government then, under the MDP candidate Dr. Lowell Lewis as Chief Minister.

Four parties contested the elections. The MCAP team was the only party that fielded a full slate of nine candidates as against main rival PDM who fielded seven. The winning party took five seats. Peoples Democratic Movement took the other three. There are those who consider that the former PDM premier who ran on the Independent ticket might as well be still counted as PPDM.

waiting for the Premier to be emerge from swearing ceremony for the celebration motorcade

Premier Donaldson Romeo almost immediately after he announced the date of elections, was dumped as the leader of the PDM party. That brought an outcry from supporters and non-PDM supporters alike. He then decided to stand on his own in the elections, a sure factor that influenced the outcome of the elections. That, with the engagement of strategists from the same camp that undoubtedly helped to rout them in the 2014 elections, with a seven to two loss.

As shown in the two contributions on the elections, a commentary by Mike Jarvis, and an article which first appeared in the Montserrat Spotlight by its editor Edwin Martin, both capture in fair detail the outcome of the campaign and the elections.

Of the nine incumbents who all contested, six were returned while one PDM candidate, former PDM minister Delmaude Ryan, former PDM candidates Dr. Ingrid Buffonge and Gregory Willock were casualties.

Crenston C. Buffonge
Veronica Dorsette-Hector

Two brilliant vote grabbers Crenston Buffonge who captured the most votes (1378 votes), and Attorney at law Veronica Dorsette-Hector who captured the fifth highest (1007 votes), after Paul Lewis (1251 votes), new and first-time premier Easton Taylor Farrell (1210 votes), and Donaldson Romeo (1060 votes), were new incoming legislators, with the veteran Charles Kirnon returning from the MCAP casualty in 2014.

The final results out of which emerged the MCAP party as the winner with the five seats were revealed by 3 a.m. on Tuesday was earlier than 2014 which went past 6 a.m. for one reason that there were fewer ballots (2412) to count than in 2014 when there were 2747 ballots to be counted. An interesting note (which needs confirmation) is there were only nine spoilt ballots as against 46 ballots this time around.

Five of the MCAP candidates were winners. Two newcomers to the Legislature: Crenston Buffonge with the most votes in the poll, Veronica DORSETTE-HECTOR; half-term incumbent, Dr. Sammy Joseph; the leader now fourth-time Legislator, Easton Taylor-Farrell; and veteran fourth-time Legislator, Charles Kirnon (between 2001 and 2019).

OBSERVER MISSION

(From top left clockwise) Martyn Perkins MHK, Isle of Man, Short Term Observer; Harald Jepsen, Denmark, Political/Campaign Analyst; Hon Julian Robinson MP, Jamaica, Head of Mission; Anne Marlborough, Ireland, Election/Legal Analyst; Aurjul Wilson, Anguilla, Short Term Observer; Mariam El-Azm, France, Senior EOM Coordinator; Felicity Newall, UK, EOM Administrator.

An international Election Observer Mission (British Islands and Mediterranean Region) BIMR Election Observation Mission visited Montserrat between 11 and 20 November, 2019.   The Mission comprised seven members of five different nationalities. It assessed the framework for elections and the conduct of election day for compliance with domestic law and international standards for elections.

Right after voting closed, head of the International Election Mission Julian Robinson MP from Jamaica said that his team visited all of the polling stations throughout the day. He said the process was smooth and the staff were very well trained. Robinson called it one of the smoothest elections he had ever seen.

He and his team released their preliminary findings on the election observation on Wednesday morning to the press at the DMCA where they had set up of office.

After an opening press conference on the previous week Wednesday, they confirmed and added to their brief initial report of Monday evening and more ending with recommendations. (See the full released report in this issue).

 Following his party’s narrow victory at the polls announced on Tuesday morning, Premier elect Easton Taylor-Farrell was sworn in within 12 hours of the announcement and after he acknowledged the narrowness of the victory by declaring his mild disappointment by wishing the victory margin was larger.

The swearing took place at about 3 p.m. at the Governor’s office where having signed to the oath of allegiance to the Queen and the people of Montserrat, and acknowledging honour he feels, his first call was: “The first action I want to take I want to ask us to do is to heal our nation.”

Premier Farrell said in brief, “There has been much division amongst us over the past months as a people;” continuing as he exhibited an obvious bout of nervousness at the occasion, as he mixed up a popular saying: “We are loving people we understand that we are one. we understand that, divided we stand united we fall divided we stand…” concluding, “all of us must work together for the common good of this country.”

He later confessed his humility, but acknowledged the cause for celebration as he would join along with his ministers, family, and friends a motorcade that was waiting to get started outside the Governor’s office.

Cabinet Ministers announced

The Premier in a brief with the press following his swearing-in had said on Tuesday that he was in discussion with his fellow members as to how to finalise the selection of his other three ministers that would form his cabinet, there being five of them elected.

The announcement came on Thursday, and the swearing-in ceremony took place on Friday morning.

Present for the swearing-in were family and friends of the new officials and the new Premier Easton Taylor-Farrell. The premier reiterated his desire to get down to business and told the media that they will shortly announce who will fill their post for public relations officer and Speaker of the House.

Premier Taylor-Farrell will be responsible for Finance, Economic Development, Trade, Tourism, and Culture.

He will be responsible for Finance, Economic Development, Trade, Tourism, and Culture.

Dr. Sammy Joseph

Dr. Samuel Joseph is the Deputy Premier and will assume responsibilities for Communication and Works, and Labour.

Charles T. Kirnon is the Minister of Education, Health, Community Services, Sports, Youth, and Ecclesiastic Affairs.

Crenston C. Buffonge is the Minister of Agriculture, Lands, Housing, and the Environment.

Veronica Dorsette-Hector will serve as Parliamentary Secretary with responsibility for Health, Community Services, Youth, and Sports.

Premier Taylor Farrell said in assigning the portfolios, consideration was given to how to best utlilise the skills of members of his government. “I am confident in the abilities of the members of my government, in whom the electorate has given the mandate to improve the fortunes of Montserrat and lead us on a path to prosperity,” he said.

“The people of Montserrat can rest assured that I will lead a government of integrity that upholds the tenets of good governance. We will get to work immediately to deliver on our promises to the people.”

The Movement for Change and Prosperity won five of the nine seats in Montserrat’s Legislative Assembly on 18 November 2019.

The swearing-in of the new government took place on Friday, November 22 at 10:00 a.m.

Posted in Elections, Featured, International, Local, News, Politics, Regional0 Comments

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