Cruise ships cancel calls to Dominica amid violence, says PM
ROSEAU, Dominica, CMC – Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit says several cruise ships have stopped coming to Dominica and blamed pre-election disturbances allegedly by supporters of the main opposition United Workers Party for the situation.
“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,” Skerrit said in a radio broadcast on Wednesday night.
Skerrit said also that the elections will be held as scheduled on Friday and hinted at the police and other law enforcement officials adopting a stronger stance against 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 humanly 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 workers party 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.
Skerrit is leading his ruling Dominica Labour Party into Friday’s general election, seeking an unprecedented fourth consecutive term in office.
In the 2014 general election, the labour party won 15 of the 21 seats in the Parliament.