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There is no obvious heir-apparent, no clear pretender to the throne, no evident king-in-waiting. As a matter of fact, since the king is still very much alive, long may he reign, his supporters content.

"(Prime Minister Roosevelt) Skerrit has a gravy train going and people might not want him to leave. I don't know what his intention (is), I haven't really heard any expression that this (leaving) is his intention. My feeling is if he decides to go he might want to fight another election," one political observer told The Sun.

"He is the only one who will know the answer to that but his handlers have suggested that he shouldn't go beyond three terms so he might just decide that he wants to enjoy his life because it is not an easy job being prime minister," added another, this one a former top Dominica Labour Party (DLP) official who fell out with Skerrit in recent times.

Despite his enormous popularity among his supporters, and having now successfully contested three general elections, there are people both within and outside the party who suggest that Skerrit must begin to consider his departure. Many are concerned about the absence of a good succession plan and worry that the party could become sclerotic and dozy.

"To be honest I don't even know how that party is organised anymore…The way the thing is stacked up, it's like a deck of cards," the former DLP official told The Sun.

There's no public jostling or jockeying at present, but a few names are being whispered. Reginald Austrie, Ian Douglas, Colin McIntyre and even Justina Charles, the widow of the late prime minister, Pierre Charles.

"Some people have intimated that Justina might want to run for a third term and see herself as a contender. Justina doesn't get it," one former DLP organiser in Charles's Grand Bay constituency told The Sun.

Not to be ruled out, said one observer, is the former education minister, Vince Henderson. Henderson, the country's ambassador to the United Nations, played a leading role on the recent campaign which saw the DLP winning a fourth straight term. However, those who have worked with him at the UN remain uncertain as to his dedication to electoral politics.

"When he first came to the UN his ambition was not to go back to Dominica, his ambition was to join his wife in Canada. But now that he is a doctor he might have ambition to be prime minister," one of them told The Sun.

The one MP being singled out as "the most logical person" is the health minister, Kenneth Darroux. Darroux comes from a family that is deeply rooted in the United Workers Party (UWP), making him an interesting choice. But there are those who will argue that while Skerrit came from deep within the Dominica Freedom Party (DFP) this did not prevent him from leading the DLP successfully.

And, one political observer said, while the Petite Savanne MP's relationship with Skerrit isn't the best, and while he has yet to solidify his base among the Labourites, Darroux has separated himself from the other contenders.

"Darroux believed from a very early stage that he is an heir apparent (but) Darroux hasn't built much of a base. He won Petite Savanne because it's a Labour seat but Darroux hasn't built a base of his own," said this observer, who, at one time, was seen as a future DLP leader.

"He (Skerrit) and Darroux don't really have a good relationship but that doesn't mean he doesn't respect him. Darroux is the one with some distance. He has a strong constituency, unlike Dr. McIntyre, he has the credential…I would say maybe Darroux is the one person (who can replace Skerrit) if he has a future in politics."

With Ambrose George, the deputy political leader, having lost his seat, there are those who suggest that he be replaced by someone who will be groomed to take over from the prime minister. However, the political scientist and pollster, Peter Wickham, has said this runs contrary to normal practice. Wickham suggested that often, the deputy is one who is seen as a threat and not as a successor, therefore anyone who is being prepared for leadership isn't given this position.

"Normally in the Westminster system the deputy is the person who is least likely to succeed so the deputy is normally not part of the succession plan," Wickham told The Sun.

Wickham's conclusion is supported by the former high ranking DLP official who referred to George as "the deputy but wasn't really one" and pointed out that Skerrit did not always allow his deputy to act as prime minister when he travelled abroad.


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