Local government in Dominica is a bit different than what I am accustomed to in the USA. The five elected council persons are joined by three councilors selected by the national government. All eight are referred to as council members and treated equally, as (to their credit) no distinction seems to be made between those who were appointed and those who ran in the election.
I'm guessing that they prefer having an even number of council members, because this encourages consensus, since if something doesn't get a majority of at least five members, then it can't be undertaken. In other words, a slim majority of just one vote can't make a difference, as happens when you have an odd number on the council. Even numbers require a two vote margin (in this case, 5 to 3).
On Monday, trucks from the Bureau of Local Government (or some similarly named bureaucratic agency) showed up with tents, chairs, and a low platform stage. They set it all up at the edge of the playing field close to the village. Madras cloth material (a Dominican tradition) was affixed to the upper sides of the tent, the Dominican flag was set up, balloons were inflated, and floral arrangements were added. In a short time during the afternoon, a nice venue was created.
The ceremony started at 4:00 with the arrival of dignitaries. There were three members of Parliament there, including one who was serving as the Acting Prime Minister (since our Prime Minister was currently out of the country on business). Several other government officials were there as well.
However, the highest official who came was none other than the President of Dominica, Charles Savarin. Here is a picture of him being escorted from the sharp black BMW limousine that brought him to our isolated village from the capital (notice the small Dominican flag on the front corner of the car).
Dominica has a population of about 70,000 (which is a good bit less than the 90,000 residents of Wood County whom I was elected to serve two four-year terms in 1992 and 1996). The island is divided up into 12 parishes, which each elect a parliamentary representative (often referred to as a "par rep").
From among these 12, one is selected to serve as the Prime Minister, which is the real seat of power in this country. The President, although highly respected, seems to me to be more of a figurehead for ceremonial purposes. However, everyone seemed proud that he was there.
After some initial remarks, each of the new council members was formally sworn into office, in a manner similar to the swearing in ceremonies that I went through. Below is a picture of my host-sister being sworn in.