DOMINICA’S nastiest election ever is now over, much to the relief of most there, here and across the entire Caribbean.
Five Election Observer Teams from CARICOM, the British Commonwealth, the United Nations, The Carter Center – and the Organization of American States (OAS) – have all duly certified the poll was free and fair, despite all the fear.
But the island’s Opposition Leader Lennox Linton and his United Workers Party (UWP) simply insist on refusing to accept the results and promise to continue in that vein, no matter what.
Linton is no ordinary political leader.
A former journalist and correspondent with the Caribbean News Agency (CANA), the BBC (and possibly Radio Antilles too), he is quite aware of the power of the media and the conquering power of social media today.
He’s also had a long association with Strategic Communications Laboratories (SCL), which gave birth to Cambridge Analytica and participated in more than one political campaign and/or assignment on the latter’s behalf in more than one Caribbean nation.
The use of social media in the Dominica 2019 election campaign was unprecedented.
Both sides made good use of it, but the Fake News component predominated at home, across the region and internationally.
Cambridge Analytica did not die after its costly exposure. It merely metamorphosed into a new entity under a new name to carry on the same old dirty work.
Besides, those trained in execution of its sick and slick campaigns on behalf of conservative parties in recent elections in Antigua and Barbuda, St, Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Saint Lucia are still learned in their good old dirty electronic electoral tricks, as was clearly manifest in the Dominica campaign.
The entire Dirty Propaganda handbook was thrown at the Dominica Labour Party (DLP) and its leader Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit.
But they survived – just as they also survived the thwarted efforts by OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro to force onto Dominica what had worked in Bolivia to the benefit of the opposition and resulted in the forced exile of a duly elected leader who’d just won his fourth consecutive term in free and fair elections.
Linton was loud throughout the campaign and all his threats were carried out – from violent opposition on the streets to legal attempts to prevent the poll – and his continuing threats to the democratic order beyond the expression of the people through certified free and fair elections ought not to be taken lightly.
Here we have a leader who is saying the entire election machinery is corrupt, except in the cases of the three seats his party won out of 21, including his – and who pummeled the DLP government and Prime Minister’s handling of diplomatic passports, only to have been exposed by Al Jazeera as doing just what he criticized.
Linton also vehemently opposes duly eligible Dominican citizens returning home to vote, while having no problem with selling citizenship to expatriate non-nationals who have equal right to vote in Dominica like every Dominican at home.
Linton warned (some say threatened) Caribbean (OECS and CARICOM) states not to send security assistance to Dominica to quell the mayhem caused by his supporters, who also attacked a police station, set fires at roadblocks, publicly accosted and assaulted religious leaders — and did everything to prevent the election from taking place.
Linton’s UWP supporters used social media to spread lies about a Venezuelan ship having been dispatched to Dominican waters to help Skerrit ‘steal’ the election, which would have, if believed in the wrong places, lent credence to his calling on the OAS to send US-led troops to intervene to ‘rescue’ the election.
But as if destined to fall on their own swords, the unprecedented violence and extraordinary departures from tradition during the final days of the campaign worked against the DLP at the polls.
Linton’s post-elections utterances cannot and should not be treated like sorrowful tears of a leader made bitter by voluntary over-consumption of sour grapes.
His supporters are clearly behind him and in that two-party society that so mirrors Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Jamaica, Guyana and so many other Caribbean nations, those committed to his call and promise of continuing the chaos of making Dominica ungovernable post-elections must not be overlooked or underestimated.
Take a look at the results:
Some 39,582 voters cast ballots at 225 polling stations in 100 polling districts. Labour won 59.2% with 233,441 votes, while UWP won 40.8% with 16,141. This is almost a 20 percentage point lead, very handsome by all standards.
But the UWP still has over 16,000 committed supporters in a country of just over 70,000, not all of whom are happy that the Skerrit and the DLP have won again — and for a fourth consecutive time.
Skerrit has always kept the door open for talks with the Opposition Leader and reiterated this position in his first post-election speech last weekend.
But even before he secures the support of the other two UWP MPs to be sworn-in as the next Opposition Leader in the Dominica Parliament, the once-again-failed UWP Leader continues to refuse to accept that he just does not have what it takes to win a free and fair election in Dominica – even with fear.
Linton’s future as UWP Party Leader may or may not be up for grabs, depending on what lessons his loss-fatigued supporters will be allowed to learn from his successive failures to deliver at the ballot box.
Having told himself that the free and fair election was stolen by Skerrit despite all the fear and convinced himself that the five overseas electoral observer missions were all wrong in their conclusions, Linton insists on giving the impression that he has also concluded that since the doors have been closed and shut tight on him by the ballot, then his only other option is that other one — and with external military help.
In the US, President Trump’s request to Ukraine to dig dirt on a political opponent ahead of elections has led to impeachment hearings against him. What if he had invited Russia to come help him secure the victory against Hillary Clinton after it became clear she had in fact won over three million votes more than him in the November 2016 Presidential Election?
Self-declared and US-backed National Assembly leader Juan Guaido declared himself ‘Interim President’ of Venezuela; and apart from inviting the army to rebel, he also repeatedly invited the US to intervene militarily – and even if protected by parliamentary immunity from Treason charges, he’s nonetheless paying the price through a steep decline in popularity nine months after he supported a failed coup effort against the elected Nicolas Maduro government.
The self-declared ‘Interim President’ who replaced Evo Morales in Bolivia was also immediately ‘recognized’ by the Bolivian army and the US — and in just one month, with US and army support and the backing of Morales’ political opponents, she has reversed 13 years of progress introduced by Morales and his Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party to the benefit of the indigenous majority.
Is Linton’s refusal to accept the election results in Dominica based on a promise or part of a plan or plot to create the conditions that will allow him to do like Guaido and invite external military intervention after being ‘recognized’ as Dominica’s ‘Interim Leader’ by the USA and/or the OAS Secretary General?
Skerrit and the DLP have promised and shown seriousness about early pursuit of electoral reforms and have indeed already published their proposals in that regard, also offering to enter into negotiations with Linton and the UWP on the issue.
The die is cast and it’s now a do-or-die situation for Dominica: Linton is making it crystal clear that he wants to be the next prime minister by any and all means possible and necessary, while the government is keen on fixing the island’s many post-hurricane and post-election maladies and returning to keeping it on course to being the world’s first climate resilient nation.
Linton’s actions and statements do everything to hurt Dominica and nothing to help heal the election wounds.
Tourism has been hit by the election violence carried out on his behalf and the island’s suitability as a destination will continue to wane if the political uncertainty persists into 2020.
Linton therefore need to examine or be reminded of the extent to which he and his supporters’ actions directly threaten the economic prosperity of The Nature Isle of 365 Rivers — and thus the national security of Dominica.
Calls for external interference and intervention in national elections of independent sovereign states amount to Treason.
Elsewhere – including the USA — the Dominica UWP Leader would be charged for Treason for inviting an external military coup against the established order and acted against the interest of National Security.
He’s lucky, if only because our politics is not that way in our part of the world.
But there’s also been a coup there and laws do still exist to address disorderly regime change in Democratic Dominica, which the next government just might be worth revisiting should the UWP leader persist in not mending his ways.
Right now, no one knows as its any way the wind blows for the Nature Isle.
But with a river for each day of the year, The Nature Isle will not allow the fabled ‘Crapaud’ to smoke its pipe. Having just defeated outright efforts at instant regime change in the interest of continuing the fight against climate change, it will continue to find its way — and continue to herald the new Dominica Day the majority voted for last Friday.