The Commonwealth of Dominica will soon make history by electing the country’s first female and indigenous President. In a press conference on Wednesday, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit announced the candidature of Sylvanie Burton, a member of the island’s indigenous population, as his nominee to become the 11th head of state.
The significance of this announcement extends beyond politics. It holds the promise of elevating indigenous and female representation to the highest chairs of the country’s leadership.
A Milestone for the Kalinago People
Sylvanie Burton’s potential election as the nation’s first female and indigenous President holds particular importance for the Kalinago people – one of the oldest indigenous tribes in the world.
Her candidature has marked a monumental stride towards recognition, empowerment, and inclusivity for the indigenous as well as for the female population of the country.
A Journey of Experience and Commitment
Burton’s journey to leadership has been marked by dedicated service. She has held the position of Permanent Secretary in various ministries since 2014.
She is currently serving as a Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Rural Modernization, Kalinago Upliftment, and Constituency Empowerment.
Her impactful career includes roles as a former Development Officer in the Ministry of Kalinago Affairs and an extensive tenure as a District Development Officer (D.D.O.).
Besides her governmental responsibilities, Burton’s commitment to her community is further demonstrated through her 25-year tenure as a Justice of the Peace. She also has over two decades of service as a Lay Associate in the Roman Catholic Church.
With academic achievements spanning a Master’s Degree in Project Management and a Bachelor’s Degree in Rural Development, Burton embodies a wealth of experience, knowledge, and a deep connection to her roots.
Charting a New Horizon of Leadership
With the government holding the necessary majority for approval, Sylvanie Burton’s nomination stands on firm ground. This support sets the stage for a potential groundbreaking moment in the country’s history.
Upon receiving the green light from the National Assembly, Sylvanie Burton’s name will be written in Dominica’s history as the nation’s first female and indigenous President.
For many people belonging to the Kalinago community, this milestone is poised to resonate far beyond the confines of politics. It symbolises progress and inclusivity.
Prime Minister’s Consultation with the Opposition Leader
Prior to the announcement, as per Section 19 (1) of the Constitution, the Prime Minister also consulted with Opposition Leader Jesma Paul.
The constitution of Dominica mandates that the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader must reach a consensus on a nominee. Thereafter, they present their choice to the Speaker of Parliament.
Nonetheless, if a mutual agreement is unattainable, any member of parliament holds the right to put forward a nominee.
Democracy in Action
As per Section 18 of the Dominica Constitution Order 1978, the election of the President takes place every five years. This happens through the House of Assembly.
The incumbent, Charles Savarin, assumed office on September 30, 2013. This followed an illustrious career spanning teaching, trade union leadership, diplomacy, and government service.
His trajectory serves as a historical benchmark, underscoring the diverse paths that can lead to the presidency. President Savarin’s term comes to an end on expires on October 1, 2023.