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O.J. Seraphine
O.J. Seraphine

(Continued from last issue)

Former PM Seraphin who was the first minister to resign from the government and cabinet of Patrick John following the incidents of 29th May 1979 due to internal disagreements in cabinet with some of the policies of the PM leading to conflicts with the Attorney General Leo Austin became the solution to Dominica's experience in seeking a resolution of the political anarchy and the transition which led to the return of the constitutional democracy six months after Independence .

This was through an unprecedented and historical dual democratic process when selected by the CNS –Committee for National Salvation- as the Prime Minister and was elected in parliament by the due process of election by a majority of Elected representatives in Parliament and was properly mandated to serve Dominica as the 2nd Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica as per the dictates of the constitution .

The Committee for National Salvation-CNS- was formed comprising of national leaders of all spheres of life and influence in Dominica, to bring stability to the political impasse and insurrection of the 29th May 1979 and beyond which led to the overthrow of the Patrick John's Labour Government and the fleeing without notice by late night of the President Fred Degazon on the 11th June and the mob attack of his successor Sir Cools Lartigue, who was thus unable to hold office for more than 24 hours. The interim solution proposed by the CNS however would have abrogated the constitution of Dominica.

Oliver Seraphin would have been an unconstitutional non-democratic Prime Minister outside of the parliamentary mandate and so he formed the Democratic Labour Party (DemLab) which allowed disenchanted elected members in Parliament from the Dominica Labour party of Patrick john who favored him to join with him and other elected members formed the new party, DemLab- the Democratic Labour Party.

Mike Douglas then returned to cabinet having been dismissed in January 1978 by Premier Patrick John.

It was a report from Mike to OJ of the plan by certain forces opposed to PJ of the intent to have PJ assassinated if there was not a solution to the impasse which motivated and hastened the formation of the Democratic Labour Party by OJ to find a constitutional solution to the impasse. There will be more on this in a subsequent publication.

This allowed other elected members in the House of Assembly to give the mandate of the majority of at least eleven elected members (11 of 21) in keeping with the constitutional requirement for the elevation of the Prime Minister in Parliament. It is worth recalling that the PJ-led Labour Party had won 16 out of the 21 seats in Parliament.

That gave Dominica the opportunity to reestablish the constitutional process and good governance .The constitutional solution and arrangement to resolve the conflicts posed by the overthrow of the Patrick John administration was the inception of the first coalition government of Dominica with ministers from the Freedom Party ,the DLM –Dominica Liberation Movement Alliance and the Labour Party - a fact that seem to have escaped historians who falsely declares the coalition of the Rosie Douglas Labour Party and the Freedom party in 2000 to be Dominica's first coalition government .

The appointment of a new President by the constitutional mandate of Parliament was thus facilitated with the appointment of Presidents Jenner Armour on June 21st 1979 and later Aurelius Marie .This is the legacy which transformed the constitutional impasse and dilemma and possible ended strife and military takeover into a historic constitutional solution .

The arrival of Hurricane David three months later then considered the most massive in history, after the events of 29th May, on August 29th 1979 devastated Dominica with then unprecedented destruction and which destroyed buildings and agriculture throughout the nation was the test of leadership. The challenge was to give food, clothing and shelter to a nation suffering the total agony of loss. The transition to normalcy and peace months later, which led to democratic elections in July 1980, is also a legacy of the Government of O J Seraphin.

In an effort designed to reestablish the Labour Party in Government towards the latter part of 1979 there were a number of dismissals of the non-Labour coalition political partners which ensured the return to full governance of the Labour Party removing the arrangements of coalition as earlier agreed by PM OJ Seraphin with the CNS in the interim solution .OJ famously said that the " CNS was blown away by the winds of David "which was alluding to the absence of the organization following the ravages to Dominica after Hurricane David .

It was Atherton Martin, leader of the Alliance Party, who was earlier dismissed as Minister of Agriculture for assumption of Government authority not agreed upon with the PM during his absence from state. This was followed by the dismissal of Brian Alleyne- Attorney General and Charles Maynard the Minister of Education and Health due to their determination to derail the license for the Ross University.

(To be continued)