Political parties are preparing for the by-election in Grand Bay due in two months to replace the late Ed Registe but although names are being called parties, as well as potential candidates, have zip
When Nept Kannit Pacquette contested the Grand Bay seat for the United Workers Party (UWP) in the 2019 general election, he received the political whipping of his life at the hands of the much-liked Edward "Ed" Registe of the Dominica Labour Party (DLP).
With just 211 votes - a mere 12 percent of the total ballots cast – to 1532 for Registe, it was a clear case of ballot box butchery.
Registe's sudden death on 1 September presents Pacquette with an opportunity for redemption in the imminent by-election. However, with less than 60 days to go before voters in Grand Bay return to the polls for the second time in less than two years, the business consultant, social activist, and humanitarian had little to say about his, of the UWP's plans to enter the race.
"It is something that we are still looking at," Pacquette told The Sun before declining further comment.
Like Pacquette and the UWP, the main parties have been elaborately cagey about arrangements for the by-election, preferring to remain tight-lipped when contacted by The Sun.
The incumbent DLP, for example, is as clear as mud as to who will replace Registe, although several DLP observers in Grand Bay have suggested Amour Thomas, Roland Delsol Jr, and Jeno Jacob as potential candidates. The Sun reached out to all three for comment.
In the case of the once-dominant Dominica Freedom Party (DFP), Johnson Boston, the general secretary, said he would reserve comment until after Registe's burial, which is set for Wednesday 20 October.
Even the fledgling Alternative People's Party, which responded to The Sun's request for a comment on the matter, adopted caution as its watchword, with the president, Julius Corbette, offering little.
"As far as I am concerned, since its inception, it has always been the party's policy to contest all elections, be it by- or general," stated Corbette. "We have not changed our position since. With respect to Grand Bay, we will make a formal announcement in due course."
Should the opposition parties decide to contest the seat, they'll face a daunting task against whoever is chosen to carry the DLP's flag.
The ruling party has been demoralisingly dominant in Grand Bay since Pierre Charles wrested the seat from the DFP in 1985. Charles retained the seat in 2000, with 1,341 votes compared to a combined 377 for the UWP and the DFP.
In fact, since 1985 the best performance by the opposition was in 2014 when another beloved son of the soil, the former teacher, James Alexander, went up against Justina Charles, then the widow of Pierre Charles – she has since remarried - who died in office of acute heart failure in January 2004. Even so, Alexander scored just 327 votes to 1426 by Justina Charles.
The by-election in 2004 following Pierre Charles' death, resulted in John Fabien of the DLP cruising to victory with 1,155 out of 1,408 ballots cast. Frankie "Krazy T" Bellot of the UWP and owner of Kairi FM polled 215 votes, while Bonti Liverpool of the Dominica Reform Party and Ernest Tavernier of the DPP got 19 votes between them.
Since 1985 Grand Bay has consistently had the lowest voter turnout in the country – around 45 percent. And with the DLP entrenched in the constituency, Crispin Gregoire, the former United Nations ambassador who was slated to represent the DLP in Grand Bay in 2009 before he was thwarted by the prime minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, suggested that the opposition parties should stay out of the by-election race.
"The Labour Party continues to dominate in Grand Bay," Gregoire told The Sun. "[And while ] I expect that there will be some display of dissatisfaction with the Labour Party, simply because it has not really delivered much, I think the opposition would make a mistake to run a candidate, because they have not done any [electoral] reform, so what's the point of giving legitimacy through a process that doesn't give them a chance at all?"