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(CMC) — Thousands of Saint Lucians took to the streets on Sunday to protest the policies of the Allen Chastanet government calling on him to call fresh general elections on the island.
The demonstration, which was organised by the main opposition St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP) attracted a wide cross section of people, including members of the St. Lucia Medical and Dental Association (SMDA) that has served notice on Labour Minister, Stephenson King, of industrial action at St Jude Hospital (SJC), in keeping with the laws of the state relating to essential services.
In their September 6, 2018 letter, the association gave no date for the industrial action nor the form it will take, but they have complained about the working conditions at the SJC in the south of the island.
Demonstrators carrying various placards, including those calling on the government to re-open the state-owned Radio St. Lucia that was closed because of financial problems, chanted songs calling for the ruling United Workers Party (UWP) that won the June 6, 2016 general election “to go”.
Opposition and SLP leader, Phillip Pierre said he was pleased with the turnout, describing it as probably the biggest ever demonstration held in St. Lucia.
“The government will understand that there are thousands of people who disagree with what they are doing and they are ready to demonstrate on the ground with their feet,” Pierre said, saying that the protest was a genuine march for improving the health institutions in the country.
“Thank you for showing up in such large numbers. Thank you to all St. Lucians…who joined us today in this battle for our country. I want to tell you, you are the ones who will determine how long Allen Chastanet stays in office,” Pierre said, noting that the government has not been carrying out its duties in regard to the SJC that was first destroyed by fire in 1990.
“We are gathered here because we are not happy with the way the government is running this country,” said Dr. Keith Mondesir, a former health minister here.
Former prime minister Dr. Kenny Anthony, said while his administration was moved from office “by the collective will of the people of St. Lucia….there is a government who can no longer manage the affairs of this country.
“There is a government we can no longer trust. There is a government that has breached the faith, the hopes, the dreams, we invested in them. There is a government that has brought dishonour, despair, sadness (and) destroy the things that we hold dear in this country.
“We have crossed the threshold …we can by our collective will, hand in hand, holding each other remove Allen Chastanet and his cabinet from the levers of power in this country,’ said Anthony, who led the SLp into the last general election.
Other opposition politicians also expressed satisfaction with the march, with Therold Prudent, whose Lucian Peoples Movement (LPM) failed to win any seat in the last general election, saying he was “ ‘ecstatic’ about the protest.
“I believe it is sending a very strong message to this government that the time is very very short and that we are determined that this government must go and none of the nonsense in terms of privatisation of health, in terms of corruption, in terms of lack of accountability – all of these things we will throw them out, together with them when the time is right,” Prudent said.