Newly elected Political Leader of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Dickon Mitchell has expressed grave concerns with the functioning of the Electoral Office under Supervisor of Elections, Elvis Morain.
Speaking in an interview in St. George, Mitchell, a barrister-at-law by profession, highlighted some of the woos affecting the various Electoral offices around the island as Grenada prepares for the holding of another general election due in less than two years.
“It’s very important for Grenadians to appreciate that the electoral process is the process that we use to determine who sits in Parliament and who forms the government,” he said.
According to Mitchell who was elected as the new party head on October 31, Congress will be embarking on a campaign to get Grenadians to know where the different Electoral offices are located, the times that these offices should be open to the public and what to expect and critically for citizens to report any issues that they encounter with these offices.
“I have already gone to offices and they are not open at 9 0’clock when they should be open – I come back minutes to 10 and they are not open,” he said.
Mitchell also pointed to issues of non-functioning cameras to take out the photographs of prospective voters to give them an Identification Card.
He said: “According to the Electoral Office you should be getting back your ID card in two weeks, in some instances it is taking a month. I am highlighting those because the Media – the Fourth Estate needs to pay attention to these issues.”
The new NDC leader disclosed that Congress intends to educate the wider Grenadian public and not only its members on the need to ensure that the Electoral process “is robust – we need to ensure it is fair, we need to ensure that it is not manipulated because at the end of the day we need to ensure that the integrity of our electoral process is unquestionable.”
“So we would engage in that in the coming weeks – you will be hearing a lot more of this from the Executive members of the National Democratic Congress and from our spokespersons.
“..The whole point is to ensure that we do not take for granted our democracy, we do not take for granted our liberties”.
Mitchell also made some passing remarks about the continued State of Emergency imposed on the island by the current New National Party (NNP) regime to deal with the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
He said: “We have lived in a State of Emergency for the last 12 months which has been extended to May (2022). It is only when you lose your freedom you appreciate it, when you lose not being able to go out at nights”.
“We live in a state of curfew – this is unprecedented and so we have to understand that the State of Emergency is not normal, nor should it be normalised, and we should always guard jealousy, our freedoms, or rights, our privileges because that is what it means to live in a democratic society”.
“And the electoral process is one of those privileges that we have and we need to ensure – it was fought for by our fore-parents – and we need to ensure that is something that we preserve for eternity”.
The NDC leader has publicly voiced his opposition to the continued State of Emergency in Grenada as he prepares to lead his party into the next general election.
Speculation is rife that Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell might set the date for the national poll while the island is still under a State of Emergency similar to what was done in other islands like Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, and St Kitts and Nevis.
The Grenadian leader is seeking his 6th five-year term in office, an unprecedented feat since the island attained its independence from Great Britain in 1974.