Police praised after several arrests in Roseau protest
ROSEAU – National Security Minister Rayburn Blackmoore Wednesday praised the police for their “high degree of tolerance” after they used tear gas to disperse opposition supporters who had taken to the streets on Tuesday calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit and his Cabinet.
“The Police Force demonstrated the highest degree of constraint and diligence and managed to stabilise the situation using reasonable force in the circumstances. They did not respond with deadly force,” Blackmoore said in a broadcast on the state-owned DBS radio.
He said that the police must also be commended for keeping peace in the capital, “attending to acts of arson…the last one being a fire and a road blockage at Fond Cole” on the outskirts of the capital.
“That is not want we want in Dominica. Ladies and gentlemen we all have the responsibility to condemn…blatant criminal acts.
“I have been advised by the police that a number of persons have been arrested including a man with a 9mm firearm. Investigations are continuing and I have been advised that the police will do an assessment of the situation with a view of embarking on all the necessary steps to maintain law and order in this beautiful country,” Blackmoore added.
The police on Tuesday night fired tear gas on Tuesday night to disperse supporters of the main opposition United Workers Party (UWP) after they set fires across the capital and looted several business places.
The protesters had earlier marched to the Financial Centre, where the office of the Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit is located, demanding his resignation as well as his entire Cabinet.
The police had earlier given the UWP until 3 P.M. (local time) to end the protest march, but UWP leader Lennox Linton had made it clear that they would not be keeping to the police deadline.
Linton had during his address to the supporters accused the police of invoking “unlawful authority in their attempt to demand that our meeting should start at a certain time and it should end at a certain time. They have no such legal authority.
“And if we are going to be a rule of law country then the police must learn to live by the rule of law and the rule of law in this country says we do not need permission to have a public meeting,” Linton said, noting that former prime minister Edison James had read the relevant sections of the Constitution.
“This meeting will finish when it is finished,” he told the cheering crowd, adding “this is the Commonwealth of Dominica, it is not the Commonwealth of Roosevelt Skerrit, it is not the Commonwealth of (Police Commissioner) Daniel Carbon”.
“The police are standing around in battle fatigues, they have their guns ready to do what. You want to shoot people for standing up. You want to shoot people for exercising their right…it is not going to happen,” Linton said.
Blackmoore said that he wanted to assure the public that “they should go about their business normally including school children, while exercising utmost caution.”
In his broadcast Blackmoore said the responsibility for this “diabolical and criminal act are at the feet, mouth and hands at the leadership of the United Workers Party and its operatives.
“Such vicious acts are totally unacceptable and I call on the churches and all concerned citizens to condemn those attacks,’ he said, telling citizens that Prime Minister Skerrit and his family “are safe”.
DBS radio said that Skerrit is due to address the nation later on Wednesday.
The UWP, which had dubbed Tuesday protest as “D-Day” had called on Skerrit to step down as the party continues its campaign against the controversial Citizenship by Investment Programme (CBI).
Under the CBI, Dominica like several Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries offer foreign investors citizenship in exchange for a significant investment in the socio-economic development of the country.
Last month, Skerrit and the Dominica government denied that the head of government was under investigations in the United States following the arrest of an Iranian national, who had in the past been the holder of a Dominican diplomatic passport.
Social media reports had claimed that an unnamed US agency was investigating Skerrit in relation to Iranian Ali Reza Ziba Halat Monfared, who was detained in Iran’s biggest fraud case and had earlier been given a diplomatic passport by Dominica..
Prime Minister Skerrit has already instructed his lawyers to pursue legal action against Linton over remarks made in regards to the issue. (CMC)