Charges and countercharges are making the rounds in Dominica as police continue investigations to get to the bottom of Tuesday’s violent disturbance following an anti-government protest, which resulted in the vandalism of nine businesses and 32 arrests.
While Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has revealed details of an alleged attempt by opposition parties to “seize the seat of power”, Opposition Leader Lennox Linton has dismissed the claim as “another lie” the Prime Minister has concocted to win the sympathy of Dominicans.
In a national address last night, in which he painstakingly outlined the sequence of events leading up to the disturbance, Skerrit charged that it was the “militant, irresponsible behaviour of the leadership of the main opposition UWP and the Dominica Freedom Party (DFP) that triggered the action.
The Prime Minister said police had been tipped off about a plan by opposition forces.
“It is important for me to share with you the plan, which was relayed to intelligence personnel in the Dominica Police Force. Fortunately, for us all, not every member of the United Workers Party and Dominica Freedom Party is supportive of the militant, irresponsible behavior of the leadership. So, details of the plan had already been shared with the police and security officials,” Skerrit told the nation.
“The police had information that the intent of the leadership was to stall the truck in front the Financial Centre and storm the barriers with the intent of entering the building. This was the intent of the leadership of the United Workers Party and the Dominica Freedom Party. This is how they intended to seize the seat of power in the country. They would have stormed the Financial Center Building and seek to occupy the building until their demands were met.”
Earlier in the day, the opposition parties led supporters in what was supposed to be an 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. public meeting near the Financial Centre where Skerrit’s office is located.
The Prime Minister said the meeting had proceeded “peacefully and consistent with the intent and spirit of the agreement reached between the police and the leaderships of the two opposition parties the day before”, but when Linton took control of the microphone around 2:50 p.m., “it changed the course of events and resulted in Dominica making world headlines all day today, and not for a good reason”.
After the meeting was finished, Skerrit said, the driver of the truck in front of the Financial Centre was ordered by police to proceed west, but it could not be driven forward because a mob was blocking it, and the atmosphere of the crowd then started to deteriorate.
“At about 6:30 p.m., the crowd started agitating and started chanting ‘Skerrit must go’. In all this, the leadership of the UWP and DFP said or did nothing to contain the emotions of their supporters,” Skerrit said, noting that earlier Linton had spoken for an hour and 15 minutes after the agreed time indicating that the meeting would only end when he was ready.
“This is when and where the cue was given for persons to do whatever they deemed necessary to forcibly and unlawfully remove a democratically elected government from office,” Skerrit said, adding that the events that later unfolded were “as a direct consequence and a result of the decision by Lennox Linton to say, in effect, ‘to hell with the police, we shall do as we please’.”
However, speaking on radio this morning, Linton hit back, categorically denying there was a plan to overthrow the government.
“There was no plan at all, no plan at all that Lennox Linton and the leadership of the United Workers Party is aware of, to storm the Financial Centre,” he stated.
The UWP Leader also challenged the Prime Minister to reveal the source of his intelligence, maintaining that he had no knowledge of the alleged plot.
“Lennox Linton, on behalf of the leadership of the UWP, is asking him to pull away the veil of intelligence and say specifically who was behind that plot,” he noted. “Call names, because whoever advised your intelligence would have told them where X or Y discussed that or told me that on such and such a time, ” Dominica News Online reported.
Linton was adamant since yesterday, that the looting and violence on Tuesday night had nothing to do with his party.
UWP Press Conference – Feb 08, 2017.
Posted by Lennox Linton on Wednesday, February 8, 2017