ROSEAU, Dominica — Prime Minister of Dominica Roosevelt Skerrit has condemned civil unrest in the country’s capital on Monday night, laying the blame squarely at the feet of the opposition United Workers Party (UWP). SEE VIDEO BELOW STORY
Addressing the nation on Tuesday morning, Skerrit said it was his “sad duty” to inform Dominicans what took place the night before.
“These events signaled the intrusion of violence into this election campaign in a manner that is unfamiliar, unnecessary and unproductive,” he stated.
For days now some Dominicans have been protesting for electoral reform on the island as general election to be held on December 6 draws closer. They say such reforms will reduce the ruling party’s advantage at the polls.
They have been calling on the Skerrit-led Dominica Labour Party (DLP) administration to clean up the voters’ list, issue voter identification cards, regulate campaign finance and grant equal access to state media resources to all political parties.
Things turned ugly on Monday night when protesters clash with police near the State House in Roseau and tear gas was fired.
In his address, Skerrit questioned whether electoral reform was the real reason for the protest.
“Ladies and gentlemen, in 18 days a general election will be held in Dominica, at which time supporters of the UWP can make their opinions clear in the ballot box,” he stated. “The elections on December 6th are being held under the same electoral laws which have governed Dominica’s free and fair elections and democratic process since attaining political independence. Both the current Labour government and the UWP opposition have been elected through this exact process and under these same laws.”
He added, “So one must ask: What really is the reason and the cause for this gangster-like behavior? Why are they seeking to tarnish and destroy the image and economic wellbeing of the country they are confident of receiving the mandate to lead in 18 days? Something about their behavior does not add up!”
He said the days of protests is the approach of the current leadership of the United Workers Party to conflict resolution.
“Whatever is the issue, their first order of business is violence and destruction of our beautiful island. Today, they marvel, as Dominica is portrayed to the world as a violent, unstable country, not worthy of investment; not worthy it of business or recreational visits and not worthy of investment citizenship,” the prime minister remarked.
He pointed out that as prime minister, he strongly condemns the actions and conduct of the UWP and its supporters.”
“The economy of Dominica will take a major hit from all the violence and anti-social behavior being pursued by the opposition, in the lead up to these elections,” he stated. “I call on them if they really do care about our country Dominica, to consider the impact their actions and conduct are having on the image of the country and the safety and wellbeing of residents and visitors alike.”
The UWP said it plans to respond to the prime minister later on Tuesday or on Wednesday.