Tension rising in Dominica ahead of election
Reports from Dominica indicate tension is mounting, mainly among supporters of the United Workers Party (UWP), who have been blocking roads and staging protests.
One journalist on the ground said missiles were thrown at him and a colleague when they went to Salisbury, one of the opposition strongholds.
In an address to the nation last night, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said the protests were having ripple effects.
“All cruise ship calls to Dominica have been cancelled effectively immediately and that cessation of services shall remain in effect until after the general election period, when hopefully this madness would have subsided and we would have brought to an end this unwarranted blotch on our otherwise pristine record of peace, safety and tranquillity,” he said in a radio broadcast on Wednesday night.
Skerrit said also that the elections will take place as scheduled on Friday and hinted at the police and other law enforcement officials adopting a stronger stance against those persons blocking roads and burning tyres and debris.
“Let us be clear also that the intimidation of voters and other law abiding citizens in this country will stop in the prelude to voting. I will not have lawless persons attempt to frustrate descent voters on the way to the polls or destroy the democratic process in Dominica.
“Law enforcement officials have exercised as much restraint as is humanely possible. They have endured verbal abuse, physical abuse, threats of violence, injury and even threats of death. Many law abiding citizens have been harassed,” Skerrit said, making reference to the various incidents posted on social media, including the verbal abuse of the Bishop of Roseau, Gabriel Malzaire and Cardinal Kelvin Felix earlier this week.
The roadblocks and fiery demonstrations are confined mainly to the northern villages of Marigot and Salisbury, considered the strongholds of the opposition party and Skerrit said what was revealing is that in the incident involving the head of the Roman Catholic Church, the brother of the UWP leader, Lennox Linton, who was “seen clearly on video.
He said getting to the Douglas Charles Airport via the main road in Marigot, is now akin to walking the gauntlet and that the Bishop and other travellers “had to physically carry their suitcases along the streets, pass burning debris…as they endured the abuse of the supporters of the Opposition Leader”.
The Roman Catholic Church has since issued a statement, condemning the verbal abuse of the two senior members of the Church saying it considers the incident to be “an act of disgrace and disrespect not only to head of the Catholic Church in Dominica but to the clergy and the lay faithful as well”.
Skerrit told the nation that he was disappointed that no apology has been forthcoming from Linton or the UWP to the Roman Catholic Church on the abuse.
“It is clear that the leader of the Opposition, Mr. Lennox Linton does not have it in him or what it takes for him to publicly apologise to his Lordship for the conduct of his brother….and the UWP supporters,”
He said even if Linton does not like the Bishop “he should respect the office of the head of the Catholic Church in Dominica. He owes his Lordship the Bishop an unqualified apology for his brother’s conduct and that of his supporters”..
Earlier, Linton refused to condemn the road blocks and protests, saying there were issues which needed to be addressed, and he was first in support of justice.
“When people rise and stand for justice, I don’t have a moral obligation to be talking peace because I have long been enough on this world to know there really cannot be any peace without justice.” (CMC/SAT)