Opposition Leader Lennox Linton calls for proof of resignation of Vince Henderson as US and OAS ambassador or for his prosecution for violating election laws but government spokesman Anthony Astaphan
Opposition Leader Lennox Linton has demanded proof from Dr. Vince Henderson that he resigned from his position in public office to solidify his eligibility in the upcoming Grand Bay by-election.
But Anthony Astaphan, seniour counsel and spokesman of the ruling Dominica Labour Party (DLP) has labeled that claim as "another nonsense".
However, to strengthen his demand, Linton wrote to the Chief of Police, Daniel Carbon, calling for a full investigation as he claims that Henderson appears to be in violation of Dominica's constitution and electoral law.
In a letter dated November 11, 2021, to Carbon, copied to the Chairman of Dominica's Electoral Commission, the Chief Elections Officer, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), and Dr. Henderson, Linton alludes to the fact that the electoral law prohibits anyone in the public service, and/or in a position of emolument in service to the State, from being accepted to run in any election on nomination day.
In 2016, Dr. Henderson was appointed as Ambassador of the Commonwealth of Dominica to the United States of America (USA) and the Organization of American States (OAS). As of nomination day for the by-election, November 9, 2021, there was no public announcement by the Government of Dominica that Henderson was recalled or had resigned or tendered his credentials of withdrawal, from his position, Linton states.
"As Leader of the Parliamentary Opposition of the Commonwealth of Dominica, and as my civic duty, I have a responsibility to ensure that the laws of our country are faithfully and fairly enforced. That, especially in cases where I believe a crime may have been committed with regard to our electoral laws," the Opposition Leader wrote to Police Chief Carbon.
He said, despite the absence of any public announcement of resignation from his ambassadorial office of emolument in service to the State, Dr. Henderson executed the requisite statutory declaration of qualification for election to the House of Assembly in breach of the qualifying criteria for such election provided in the Constitution and Dominica's electoral laws.
Linton further claims that Dominica Labour Party nominee in the Grand Bay by-election appears to have made a "false or untrue declaration" in the nomination process for which he may be criminally liable under the Statutory Declarations Act Chapter 5:53.
"Therefore, please accept this letter as a formal request that the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Commonwealth of Dominica Police Force interviews Vince
Henderson, Dominica Labour Party candidate for the November 25, 2021 by-Election."
The Opposition Leader further requested from the Chief of Police, that during the course of the recommended investigation, Henderson provides CID with duly authenticated letters, under the oath of the Minister of Foreign Affairs or Chief Establishment Officer, confirming that such letters of resignation and withdrawal of credentials to the OAS/USA were tendered before November 9, 2021.
"Where such letters cannot be provided to CID by Mr. Henderson upon request," he advised, "a crime has been committed under electoral laws and criminal charges must be issued," he wrote.
He further appealed to Carbon to act with urgency in investigating and/or prosecuting this matter as according to him, "time is of the essence."
Linton also requested of the Chief that he immediately notify the Director of Public Prosecutions of his finding upon investigation, "so that she may move with alacrity in charging Dr. Henderson with violation of our electoral laws if he is unable to tender the duly authenticated documents of resignation/withdrawal referenced above."
He pledged his full support and assistance to the police during the proposed investigation.
Following news of Linton's demands, Dr. Henderson publicly announced at a meeting in Grand Bay with the constituency's youth that he no longer served in the capacity of Ambassador of the Commonwealth of Dominica to the USA and the OAS, though he did not say when his resignation was tendered.
Subsequently, in a news bulletin on State-owned DBS radio on Monday, Astaphan rubbished Linton's claim saying: "It's another nonsense, it's another lie" and that the requirement for the nomination of election candidates outlined in the Constitution does not apply to ambassadors.