Ahead of the upcoming elections in Dominica, set to be hosted on December 6, the government-owned radio station in the country has committed to providing free-of-cost advertisement and promotion spots to the nominated candidates of the various political party. This gesture is being hailed as historic for the state-owned Dominica Broadcasting Service.
At a public meeting held on Wednesday, November 23, 2022, the Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit, revealed, “I called the general manager of DBS (Dominica Broadcasting Service) radio today, and I said to him that DBS needs to call independent candidates in this election and to offer them free airtime to promote themselves as candidates in this election,”
Further, the Prime Minister elaborated, “They will get x number of ads every day until election day, at no charge to them, to ensure they can have access to the people of Dominica to say what they will do…for them in Dominica.”
Even though Dominica has several radio stations and media platforms, and the opposition has had unlimited access to the media, several candidates nominated in the current general elections have complained that they find it challenging to communicate their messages satisfactorily.
The political candidates argue that one of the primary reasons for this inability is the lack of funding and other resources. The candidates expressed their inability to buy promotional campaign spots on privately owned radio stations.
At the event on Wednesday, Prime Minister Skerrit noted, “The people of Dominica who are qualified to contest the elections under our constitution have put their hands up, and they have gone to get nominated, and we have 45 candidates in the 2022 general elections, more than 2019 and more than 2014 – even though some parties say they are not running,”
The considered main opposition United Workers Party called for a boycott of the general elections. Despite this, at least two smaller parties and several independent candidates have registered nominations.
Observers have declared every general election held in Dominica since independence 44 years ago as free and fair.
The UWP, without a full-time leader, is seeking to elect one this weekend. The political party has argued it was boycotting the poll until the electoral process is reformed. However, its critics have said it is merely an excuse for its unpreparedness after the snap poll was called.
During the current campaign, Prime Minister Skerrit has also indicated that he will also propose, as is the case in some countries in the Caribbean, that independent senators representing churches, business communities, farmers and trade unions be nominated for the next parliament to give opportunity for varying views in the community.
“We fully understand that the coming period will bestow upon us a special opportunity to govern; one that we will have to accept with humility and respect,” Greta Roberts, the DLP candidate for Grand Fond, said this week at a public meeting in the rural east.
She said: “By the Grace of God, we believe that the hour of our greatest triumph cometh; but the winner shall not take all, because we will bring along with us people of different opinions and different positions.”