Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica

The Responsibilities of the President

The responsibilities of the office of the President can be examined in three distinct areas namely:

  • Constitutional functions
  • Ceremonial functions
  • Community services

The Constitution has defined the powers of the President. The Constitution establishes rules governing the exercise of the President’s functions:-

  • He appoints the Prime Minister who is the member of the House of Assembly who appears to him likely to command the support of the elected majority of the House;
  • Acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister, he appoints Ministers from among the Members of the House;
  • He shall remove the Prime Minister from office if a resolution of no confidence in the Government is passed by the House and the Prime Minister does not within three days either resign from his office or advise him to dissolve Parliament.

If at any time between the holding of General Elections of Representatives and the first meeting of the House thereafter the President considers that in consequence of changes in the membership of the House resulting from that election and of any general election of Senators, the Prime Minister will not be able to command the support of the majority of the elected members of the House the President may remove the Prime Minister from office.

Whenever the Prime Minister is absent from Dominica or by reason of illness is unable to perform the functions conferred upon him by the Constitution, the President may authorise some other Minister to perform those functions (other than the functions conferred by Section 62 of the Constitution) and that Minister may perform those functions until his authority is revoked by the President.

  • Whenever a Minister other than the Prime Minister is absent from Dominica or is within Dominica but by leave of the President is not performing the functions of his office or by reason of illness is unable to perform those functions, the President may authorise some other Minister to perform those functions, or may appoint a member of the House to be a temporary Minister in order to perform those functions; and that Minister or temporary Minister may perform those functions until his authority or, as the case may be, his appointment is revoked by the President;
  • The powers of the President in respect of the foregoing shall be exercised by him in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister;

Provided that if the President, acting in his own deliberate judgment, considers that it is impracticable to obtain the advice of the Prime Minister owing to his absence or illness he may exercise those powers without that advice and in his own deliberate judgment.

  • In the exercise of his functions the President shall act in accordance with the advice of the Cabinet or a Minister acting under the general authority of the Cabinet except in cases where he is required by the Constitution or any other law to act in accordance with the advice of, or after consultation with, any person or authority other than the Cabinet.

Provided that the foregoing shall not apply where the President is authorised to act in his own deliberate judgment in accordance with the following provisions of the Constitution -

  • Section 56 (which relates to the Constituency Boundaries Commission and the Electoral Commission;
  • Section 59 and 62 (which relate to Ministers;
  • Section 66 (which relates to the Leader of the Opposition);
  • Section 85 (which relates to the appointment, etc., of Public Officers);
  • Section 87 (which relates to the Chief Elections Officer) and;
  • Section 93 (which relates to the Public Service Board of Appeal).

Opposition within the time within which it may be necessary for him to act, he may act without that advice and in his own deliberate judgment in the exercise of any power conferred upon him by the Constitution in respect of which it is provided that he shall act on the advice of, or after consultation with, the Leader of the Opposition.

Nothing in Paragraph (1) above shall require the President to act in accordance with the advice of the Cabinet or a Minister in exercise of the functions conferred upon him by the following provisions of the Constitution:-

  • The proviso to Section 54(4) (which requires the President to dissolve Parliament in certain circumstances);
  • Section 59 (6) (which requires the President to remove the Prime Minister from office in certain circumstances);
  • Section 64 (which entitles the President to information);
  • Section 56 (5), 66 (4), 84 (6), 87 (7), 88 (8), 89 (7), 93 (5) and 108 (7) (which require the President to remove the holders of certain offices from office in certain circumstances).

The Prime Minister shall keep the President fully informed concerning the general conduct of the Government of Dominica and shall furnish the President with such information as he may request with respect to any particular matter relating to the Government of Dominica.

Ministerial responsibility in no way detracts from the importance of the President’s role in the smooth working of Government. The Leader of the Opposition shall be appointed by the President;

Whenever there is occasion for the appointment of a Leader of the Opposition the President shall appoint the elected member of the House who appears to him most likely to command the support of a majority of the elected members of the House who do not support the Government: or, if no elected member of the House appears to him to command such support, the elected member of the House who appears to him to command the support of the largest single group of members of the House who do not support the Government.

Provided that if a member of the House was elected at a general election in which he stood as a supporter of a political party and the majority of members of the House elected at that time (whether as Representatives or Senators) stood as supporters of that party, he shall, so long as he remains a member of the House by virtue of that election, not be eligible for appointment as Leader of the Opposition.

If occasion arises to appoint a Leader of the Opposition during the period between a dissolution of Parliament and the day on which the ensuing election of Representatives is held, an appointment may be made as if Parliament had not been dissolved.

If it appears to the President that the Leader of the Opposition is no longer able to command the support of a majority of the elected members of the House who do not support the Government or (if no elected member of the House appears to him to be able to command such support) the support of the largest single group of members of the House who do not support the Government, he shall remove the Leader of the Opposition from office.

The powers of the President shall be exercised by him in his own deliberate judgment.

The President may:-

  • Grant a pardon, either free or subject to lawful conditions, to any person convicted of any offence;
  • Grant to any person a respite, either indefinite or for a specified period, of the execution of any punishment imposed on that person for any offence;
  • Substitute a less severe form of punishment for any punishment imposed on any person for any offence; or
  • Remit the whole or any part of any punishment imposed on any person for any offence or of any penalty or forfeiture otherwise due to the Government of Dominica on account of any offence.

The powers of the President in respect of the above shall be exercised by him in accordance with the advice of such Minister as may from time to time be designated by him, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister.

The President acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister appoints the Advisory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy which shall consist of:

  • The designated Minister who shall be Chairman;
  • The Attorney General;
  • not more that four other members appointing by writing under his hand.

The President may at any time prorogue or dissolve Parliament.

In the exercise of his power to dissolve Parliament, the President shall act in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister: Provided that if the office of the Prime Minister is vacant and the President, acting in his own deliberate judgment, considers that there is no prospect of his being able within a reasonable time to appoint to that office a person who can command the support of the majority of the elected Members of the House, the President shall dissolve Parliament.

The President appoints Senators (Five) acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister and (four) acting in accordance with the advice of the Leader of the Opposition.

He appoints the members of the Constituency Boundaries Commission (except the Speaker as Chairman); two (2) on the advice of the Prime Minister and two (2) on the advice of the Leader of the Opposition.

He appoints the Members of the Electoral Commission:-

  • The Chairman; acting in his own deliberate judgment;
  • Two members acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister; and
  • Two members acting in accordance with the advice of the Leader of the Opposition.

He appoints the following Commissions:-

  • The Public Service Commission;
  • The Police Service Commission:
    • a Chairman and a deputy Chairman acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister;
    • two members, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister, from amongst persons selected by the appropriate representative body; and
    • not more than three other members, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister.

Before tendering advice to the President for purposes of Sub Paragraphs (1) and (2) above the Prime Minister shall consult the Leader of the Opposition.

He makes appointments to particular offices in accordance with the advice of the Public Service Commission:

  • Secretary to the Cabinet, Permanent Secretaries head of a department of Government, deputy head of department of Government, Clerk of the House, any office for the time being designated by the Public Service Commission as an office of a chief professional adviser to a department of Government and any office for the time being designated by the Commission, after consultation with the Prime Minister, as an office the holders of which are required to reside outside Dominica for the proper discharge of their functions or as an office in Dominica whose functions relate to external affairs.
  • The Director of Audit; (Acting Director)
  • The Director of Public Prosecutions; (Acting Director)
  • The Chief Elections Officer and Acting Officer after consultation with the Electoral Commission;
  • The Chief of Police and the Deputy Chief of Police in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister given after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition and the Police Service Commission;

He appoints:

  • The Public Service Board of Appeal;
  • One member; acting in his own deliberate judgment, who shall be chairman;
  • One member, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister; and
  • One member, acting in accordance with the advice of the appropriate representative body.
  • The Parliamentary Commissioner and the Deputy Parliamentary Commissioner after consultation with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.

The President acting on the advice of the Prime Minister may by directions in writing assign to the Prime Minister and other Ministers responsibility for any business of government including the administration of any department of Government.

Provided that responsibility for finance shall be assigned to a Minister who is an elected member of the House.

He appoints Parliamentary Secretaries from among Members of the House acting on the advice of the Prime Minister.

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