Astaphan, Skerrit, Alick Lawrence and the Electoral Commission

The Electoral Commission is a creature of our Constitution  provided for at section 56(1): "There shall be a Constituency Boundaries Commission and an Electoral Commission for Dominica (each of which is hereinafter in this section referred to as a Commission)"
According to Section 56(3) "The Electoral Commission shall consist of -a) a chairman appointed by the President, acting in his own deliberate judgment;b) two members appointed by the President, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister; andc) two members appointed by the President, acting in accordance with the advice of the Leader of the Opposition
Section 56(11) states that "in the exercise of its functions under this Constitution a Commission shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority
Following the 2005 election, a five member Electoral Commission was appointed in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution as follows:
Gerald Burton - Chairman, appointed by the President in his own deliberate judgmentRichard Charles - Member, appointed on the advice of the Prime MinisterKondwani Williams - Member, appointed on the advice of the Prime MinisterBernie Didier - Member, appointed on the advice of the Leader of the OppositionDon Christopher - Member, appointed on the advice of the Leader of the Opposition
That independent Electoral Commission decided to 1) undergo a complete re-registration of voters in order to sanitize the voters register; and 2) introduce voter ID cards
At that time, Anthony Astaphan was fully aware of the Constitutional provisions if only as the lawyer for Urban Baron in his 1998/1999 matter against the Constituency Boundaries Commission where he argued bias on the part of the UWP nominees on the Commission. Indeed, in his irrational, hate-mongering, tirade against Dave Bruney's appointment to the IPO Commission he recently reminded us about the 1999 judgment of the Appeal Court:
"The principles of impartiality and independence
apply. These questions were considered by the Court of Appeal in the Urban Baron
appeal before 2000 or between 1995 and 2000. The court condemned, deprecated,
criticized and made it clear that the appointment of political activists to
constitution commissions and commissions such as the Integrity Commission is (an)
assault to the integrity and commonsense of the people of this country; it’s an
assault on the intelligence of the people of this country; it’s an assault on
the structure and fabric and impartiality of the integrity commission. It is
similar to the Al Qaeda assault on the Twin Tower when they sent people there
to destroy institutions of the United States". So Astaphan gives the impression that he has an abiding concern with the impartiality and independence of the Electoral Commission and therefore advocates that it should be protected from "political activists". Richard Charles is a political activist of the Dominica Labour Party who contested the 2005 election in the Marigot Constituency and lost to Edison James. Immediately thereafter he was placed on the Electoral Commission with not as much as a single word of concern from Astaphan. Yet to make his partisan case against "political activists" he resorts to saying what the Appeal Court judges did not say. Disingenuously implying in effect that 'comments in passing' by an Appeal Court judge amount to an order that carries the force of law.
For perspective and the avoidance of doubt, what the judgment of the Appeal Court (written by Justice Satrohan Singh) actually said with respect to 'impartiality and independence' was this:

“The reality
of the situation is that when such a Commission is being set up, the respective
sides will recommend members whom they are satisfied will look after each
side’s respective interests. Their
concentration will be more on political advantage than constitutional
requirement...
“It is my considered opinion that such a Commission
will always lean more towards political loyalty than constitutional
integrity. What would assist in order to
avoid the appearance of this mischief of bias, is that if, when members are to
be recommended to the President, the respective politicians give names of those
who are less politically conspicuous.
Life would be so much simpler".
On March 27th, 2008 the great advocate for "impartiality and independence" of Constitutionally appointed commissions turned his guns on the "impartiality and independence" of the Electoral Commission. The savagery of his attack is captured in an email to Roosevelt Skerrit which documented his concerns as follows:
"I spoke to Kondwani
this morning. There is madness going on at the Commission. You need to call in
Richard and Kondwani. I leave today. These guys are talking about reforms to include
ID cards and COMPLETE REREGISTRATION! Such reforms will undermine your
reelection legacy as the opposition will say look, the Commission agreed with
us; reform was required because of wide spread fraud!"
Within a month DLP political activist Richard Charles was deemed unfit for the task of ensuring that the independent Electoral Commission was brought under the direction and control of Roosevelt Skerrit and Astaphan. So he was removed and replaced by Alick Lawrence whose specific assignment was to ensure that there would be no cleaning of the voters list and no voter ID cards before the general election constitutionally due by October 2010.
On April 28th, 2008, an email from Alick Lawrence to Skerrit and Astaphan confirmed the purpose of his appointment to the independent Electoral Commission:
"Hi Comrades, I am due to attend my first Commission meeting on
Tuesday at 9 am, although due to a mediation at 10 am I am only able
to spend 1 hour there. I see from the documents sent to me that the
Commission has taken a decision to introduce a new voter registration
system before the next election. I
have serious reservations about this and would like to have a chat with you both about it".
Three years later, the "reservations" of Alick Lawrence and the reasons Skerrit placed him on the Electoral Commission on the advice of Astaphan, reign supreme. We have no voter ID cards and there has been no clean up of the voter's list contrary to the public interest decision of the independent Electoral Commission more than three years ago.
Astaphan, Skerrit and Alick Lawrence, who have hijacked the impartiality and independence of the Electoral Commission, are the same persons currently bellyaching about the appointment of Dave Bruney to the Integrity Commission under legal arrangements which make Bruney criminally liable for any breaches of the confidentiality provisions of the IPO Act that they allege he could possibly commit.
According to Astaphan "there is a disease blowing in the wind and it is called madness".

5 Comments on "Astaphan, Skerrit, Alick Lawrence and the Electoral Commission"

  1. Anthony W Astaphan,S.C | April 19, 2011 at 11:41 PM | Reply

    Astaphan, Skerrit, Alick Lawrence and the Electoral Commission
    Lennox,

    You left out some things ( as usual).

    1. I won the Urban Baron appeal. The political activists referred to by the
    Court in that case were appointed on the advice of Edison Chenfeld James.

    2 At page 161 (a) to (b) of Volume 58 of the West Indies Reports the Court
    of Appeal also said

    “Section 65 (4) of the Constitution precludes from membership of the
    Commission, a Member of the House. The obvious purpose of this provision
    was to avoid this very danger of bias. *In this context, it is my opinion
    that there is very little difference between Members of the House and
    political activists*”

    3. At page 161 (e) and (f) the Court also said

    ” As a result there appears to be what can be described as an imposition of
    the paramountcy of the Government’s party or its political will on the
    Commission. In my view, the appearance of such an imposition is completely
    alien and repugnant to the Constitution and will have to be rejected as an
    insidious contravention of the Constitution”

    4. The criteria for appointment to the Constituencies Boundaries
    Commission under the Constitution are very different to those for
    appointment to the Integrity Commission. Lennox is never interested but for
    those interested in the truth look at section 56(4) of the Constitution and
    contrast those provisions with sections 4(3) and 5 (d) of the Integrity in
    Public Office Act.

    5. The Constituencies Boundaries Commission is a very different kettle of
    fish to the Integrity Commission. The Integrity Commission is very important
    Tribunal vested with coercive and quasi judicial powers. It may decide to
    recommend a criminal investigation or prosecution of a person holding public
    office. On the other hand, while important, the Constituencies Boundaries
    Commission have no such intrusive, investigative or quasi judicial powers. I
    do not expect you to understand the fundamental differences between the two
    commissions but they are stark and obvious.

    I do not intend any comparison between Charles or Alick Lawrence and Dave
    Bruney. If I did I would be giving perhaps more credence to a bad political
    joke than is necessary.

    I can go on. But its Easter. I will celebrate the resurrection of Christ
    while I have no doubt you will seek to dig your shattered reputation from
    the graveyard, that is, if you can find the tomb!

    HAPPY EASTER TO ALL!

  2. Shirley Allan | April 19, 2011 at 11:43 PM | Reply

    Astaphan, Skerrit, Alick Lawrence and the Electoral Commission
    Tony that ws the game plan? We demonize Lennox, shatter his reputation, put his credibility in doubt, and since he is the one that is brining the issues to the people, we can go ahead with our deceit, insults, lies, fraud?? You have failed miserably Tony because you have basically Killed your reputation. Take a look and DNO and see what the people are saying Tony, and guess what even laborites find you dispicable! So leave our bother alone and so and do your pennace Jesus Christ is waiting for you and guess what he will even accept you in the front gate if you truly believe in him, but first confess your sins of blasphemy, cleanse yourself, because he hates that sin. Remeber God is Goodm all the time? What happened to that slogan Tony? Noe just like St. Peter all you start to deny him.. Skerrit is father, and you will cahhlenge God’s Will in the court of man???? Hahahahahah!!! Defeat # one, that will lead us to the burried bodies…. No lie shall live forever, no one on earth has been ablt to make that happen…… Happy Easter to you Parry and the rest of the Corleone family consigliere!!!

  3. Thomson Fountaine | April 19, 2011 at 11:44 PM | Reply

    Astaphan, Skerrit, Alick Lawrence and the Electoral Commission
    Tony’s hypocrisy knows no bounds. Alick and Kondwani are PM Skerrit’s lawyers and they serve on a Commission that is supposed to be independent. Dominicans are certainly aware of the double speak coming from his quarters.

  4. Lennox Linton | April 19, 2011 at 11:47 PM | Reply

    Astaphan, Skerrit, Alick Lawrence and the Electoral Commission
    The issue is not Lennox Linton, nor is it Astaphan’s insurmountable hatred of this patriot of African descent. The issue is the savage dismantling of the impartiality and independence of the Electoral Commission by Astaphan, Skerrit and Alick Lawrence who would like the public to believe that they of all people have a sincere interest in safeguarding the Commission from the excesses of “political activists”.Astaphan’s March 27, 2008 attack on the impartiality and independence of the Electoral Commission, when he described its decision to introduce voter ID cards and clean the voter’s list as “madness” and the subsequent decision to install Alick Lawrence on the Commission to bring it under the direction and control of Astaphan and Skerrit, is precisely the kind of “insidious contravention of the Constitution” referred to in the 1999 judgment of the Appeal Court in Baron vs the Boundaries Commission.”As a result there appears to be what can be described as an imposition of the paramountcy of the Government’s party or its political will on the Commission. In my view, the appearance of such an imposition is completely alien and repugnant to the Constitution and will have to be rejected as an insidious contravention of the Constitution”Astaphan quotes it to justify his vicious attack on the Commission because in his little mind this passage from the Appeal Court judgment can only possibly refer to Edison James and the choices he made for membership on the Boundaries Commission at the time. Newsflash Astaphan, for those of us with commonsense, preventing the independent Electoral Commission from introducing ID Cards and cleaning the voters list so that Skerrit could win the 2009 election, is,quite simply, an imposition of the paramountcy of Roosevelt Skerrit and your political will on the Electoral Commission. I believe that “such an imposition is completely alien and repugnant to the Constitution” and must therefore be “rejected as an insidious contravention of the Constitution.”Astaphan, are you going to be man enough before Easter to leave the red herrings alone and address your role in the dismantling of the impartiality and independence of the electoral commission so that it could be directed and controlled to serve the partisan political interests of Skerrit and yourself?Where else in the civilized world Astaphan could a lawyer of more than 20 years standing at the bar describe as “madness” the pro democracy, public interest initiative of introducing voter ID cards and cleaning the voters’ list and still have the unmitigated gall to lie and spin his way of out this absolute disgrace?

  5. Frederick A. Baron | April 19, 2011 at 11:52 PM | Reply

    Astaphan, Skerrit, Alick Lawrence and the Electoral Commission
    Lennox I may have to delete you from my inbox as well. You see this broke assed part qualified accontant with a masters degree and more, who have trained regional people in understanding financial statements will never get into a farting match with a skunk. You just won’t win and trust me the skunk is not even bothered by the stench.

    If you continue responding, I will have to do the only thing I know. Delete so as a contact so garbage don’t come with your truth.

    Stay blessed and sleep well with your clear conscience like I always do.

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