ROSEAU, Dominica, Feb 8, CMC – Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit Wednesday said that his ruling Dominica Labour Party (DLP) would not be removed from office unless through the ballot box as he condemned the violence that erupted here on Tuesday night as police used teargas to disperse opposition supporters demanding his resignation.
Addressing the 24th annual general meeting of the Agricultural Industrial and Development (AID) Bank, Skerrit, who had earlier toured some of the businesses looted or set on fire by the protestors, said that his silence should never be regarded as a sign of weakness.
He told the bankers that the riot which had been organised “clearly by the leadership of the United Workers Party and their associates” had resulted in millions of dollars in losses.
“I visited the Muslim store, they set fire to the back of the store and I saw the volume of stock, millions of dollars destroyed. Those that were not damaged by smoke or fire were damaged by water,” Skerrit said, adding it is incomprehensible as Christian people and go to church every morning and praise God “would be condoning this action by the United Workers Party (UWP) because of our partisanship…”
Skerrit, who is due to address the nation later on Wednesday on the violence, said that the store owners and others had invested significant amounts of resources into the island. Adding that the stores attacked were done so randomly.
“And we can wake up in the morning and be okay with it, nothing happened in the country. That we are not going to let our voices be heard and condemn this because we are supporting the party, or because we do not like or love Roosevelt Skerrit.
“That has nothing to do with me. It is about the country and the country’s future. When to send to the world the impression that this country is not a place to do business and to come to visit how are we going to create jobs in Dominica.”
He said the acts aimed at toppling his administration by force would never succeed.
“I am saying to people in Dominica, that nobody or groups of individuals are going to get my government out without going through the ballots. Never take my silence for weakness. I am measured with my approach with life …as the leader of the country let it be known that there should be no actions on the part of individuals of Dominica to overthrow this government.
“So if that’s what is their intention I am sending message to them they better re-think their plans. But this action last night was planned it was calculated and it was executed,” he added.
Earlier, Opposition Leader Lennox Linton condemned the “violence and vandalism” in the capital on Tuesday night and denied that the party played any role in getting protestors to set fires and loot several buildings.
“Today we say, the United Workers Party condemns the acts of violence and vandalism that erupted in the streets of Roseau during the evening of February 7, 2017 causing widespread loss and damages to business enterprises and triggering fears for safety and security in a season of heightened tension in our practice of civility,” UWP leader Lennox Linton said in an address posted on his Facebook page.
“The leadership of the United Workers Party was being blamed on the grounds that the disorder resulted from a public meeting…earlier in the day calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit.
“Both events are un-related and we condemn these baseless criticisms as forcefully as we condemn the lawlessness visited upon the capital on Tuesday night. For the avoidance of doubt the public meeting ended hours before the violence and vandalism,” he said.
National Security Minister Rayburn Blackmoore Wednesday praised the police for their “high degree of tolerance” after they used tear gas to disperse opposition supporters who had taken to the streets on Tuesday calling for the resignation of Skerrit.
“The Police Force demonstrated the highest degree of constraint and diligence and managed to stabilise the situation using reasonable force in the circumstances. They did not respond with deadly force,” Blackmoore said in a broadcast on the state-owned DBS radio.
He said that the police must also be commended for keeping peace in the capital, “attending to acts of arson…the last one being a fire and a road blockage at Fond Cole” on the outskirts of the capital.
“That is not want we want in Dominica. Ladies and gentlemen we all have the responsibility to condemn…blatant criminal acts.
“I have been advised by the police that a number of persons have been arrested including a man with a nine millimetre firearm. Investigations are continuing and I have been advised that the police will do an assessment of the situation with a view of embarking on all the necessary steps to maintain law and order in this beautiful country,” Blackmoore added.
The police on Tuesday night fired tear gas to disperse the protestorswho had earlier marched to the Financial Center, where the office of the Prime Minister Skerrit is located, demanding his resignation as well as his entire Cabinet.