Sat | Dec 14, 2019

Dominica PM demands end to violence

Published:Tuesday | December 3, 2019 | 12:44 AM


Dominican Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit Monday night accused the opposition United Workers Party (UWP) and its leadership of fermenting violence in the run-up to the December 6 general election after supporters burnt tyres and debris in the northeast village of Marigot earlier during the day.

Skerrit, in a radio and television broadcast, said that the incident in Marigot was part of an organised strategy by the opposition party to disrupt the general election and followed a bench warrant that had been issued for UWP leader Lennox Linton and former Prime Minister Edison James for their non-appearance at a magistrate’s court.

The two are facing charges arising out of an incident on February 7, 2017, when they were alleged to have been involved in incitement by encouraging, persuading, or instigating by words, causing persons to jeopardise the safety or endanger the public peace following a UWP public meeting.

Skerrit said that Linton, James and their lawyers are fully aware “that when accused persons fail to appear in court, an arrest warrant is issued”.

“Why did James and Linton refuse to go to court until the warrant was issued? A warrant would have been issued for any other Dominican who had failed to appear in court to answer a criminal charge. Surely, Linton and James do not think they are above the law,” Skerrit said, adding that he had cancelled all political activities of his Dominica Labour Party for fear of violence being meted out to supporters of the ruling party.

Skerrit said that it was significant that not long after the issuing of the warrant, three events occurred, including the fiery street demonstrations in Marigot, which was represented in the last Parliament by Linton.

He said that an inflammatory “written message” started making the rounds on social media “making it appear that the issue of the warrant was an act of wrongdoing on the part of the magistrate rather than standard procedure”.