Dermot Southwell has the challenging task of leading the Integrity in Public Office (IPO) Commission.

Southwell, a member of the 1990 Dame Eugenia Charles administration and holder of several top posts since the Dominica Labour Party (DLP) took office is now chairman of the newly reconstituted IPO Commission, the Sun has been reliably informed.

Southwell replaces attorney-at-law Julian Johnson.

Lennox Linton, Leader of the Opposition United Workers Party (UWP) has confirmed to the Sun that he has been officially informed of the choice of the Roosevelt Skerrit government.

"I have been written to that effect…he has notified me but we have a broaden concern with the body of the amendment to the Act and will want it amended in Parliament before we can talk," Linton told the SUN.

One of the major concerns of the Opposition is the recent amendment to the IPO Act of 2003 and especially to the requirements of the post of chairman.

The IPO Act of 2003 states that the IPO chairman must be a former Judge of the High Court, an attorney-at-law of fifteen years standing at the Bar or a former Chief Magistrate.

The IPO chairman must be appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister.

However, the new amendment removes all references to retired judges or former chief magistrates.

Instead it states that the chairman: "shall be an attorney at law of at least seven years standing at the Bar, a Chartered Accountant of at least seven years post qualification experience or a person who has held high administrative, managerial or executive office in the public, private or social sector, appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister."

Southwell meets the later requirement: a high level executive in the public or private sector.

Southwell was a Minister without portfolio in the 1990 government of Dame Eugenia Charles. He also served for many years as chairman of the then Carnival Organization Committee (COC) and the board of the Dominica Air & Seaport Authority (DASPA). Currently he holds the post of Deputy Chairman of the National Bank of Dominica (NBD). For many years he was managing director of J. Astaphan & Co.

When he becomes IPO chairmen Southwell will have much difficulty in removing the perception of the opposition that he has been appointed to act as IPO chairman in the interest of the government.

In fact Linton has written to Prime Minister Skerrit demanding a reversal of the recent amendments to the IPO Act because these amendments, he said "are not in the public interest since they weaken rather than strengthen the legislative framework for integrity in public life".

How Southwell's IPO deals with the current court case against His Excellency President of the Commonwealth of Dominica Charles Savarin and matters related to members of the Skerrit Administration will be interesting.

Note too that the new amendment of the IPO Act allows the Southwell IPO to decide whether or not matters commenced under the Johnson Commission will be continued.