P.M. Says So But Linton Says It’s Just Another Lie.
WAS there a plan by opposition parties in Dominica to overthrow the government of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit this week?
Skerrit thinks so, but at least one of the two opposition parties fingered in the alleged attempt, says otherwise.
Skerrit says the leadership of two opposition parties, the United Workers Party and the Dominica Freedom Party had planned to storm his office and “seize the seat of power” during Tuesday night’s disturbances that led to demonstrators setting fire to buildings and looting several businesses.
In a radio and television address on Wednesday night, Skerrit said that the demonstrators who had been calling for his resignation and that of his government were being pushed by the “militant, irresponsible behaviour of the leadership” of the UWP and the DFP.
The protesters had earlier during the day staged a demonstration on the street of the Financial Center where Skerrit’s office is housed, with Opposition Leader Lennox Linton and others defying a police command that their activities be held during the period 11:00 a.m to 3:00 p.m (local time)..
The Prime Minister said in an address to the nation Wednesday night: “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,” Skerrit said in his broadcast.
He said the police had on Tuesday night made “several attempts to clear the road by removing debris placed in front and under the tyres of the truck so as to allow it to exit the area but that proved futile as the people continued to create an obstruction”.
He said that Linton and three other opposition members, including two other legislators, had sought a meeting with the Superintendent (Ag.) Matthew Cuffy, who was in control of the police squad at the event, but left after he “advised them to take control of their supporters and to clear the front of the truck” which was also being used as a platform for the various speakers.
“In all this, the leadership of the UWP and DFP said or did nothing to contain the emotions of their supporters,” Skerrit said, giving his audience a detailed account of the agreement that had been reached between the police and the organisers to end the protest by 3:00 p.m.
He said that the agreement called for the speakers to adhere to the provisions of the Litter and Noise Abatement Acts as well as the Public Order Act.
Skerrit said that the representatives of the two Opposition parties agreed to the terms and conditions set in the permission for the meeting, but that “so emotive was the language used, that the American Embassy in Barbados, you would recall, issued an advisory to American citizens in Dominica advising that they stay clear of the area earmarked for this event.
“Perhaps now, on reflection, it is reasonable for one to speculate whether the US Embassy in Bridgetown had gotten wind of the intended action of the leaderships of the United Workers Party and the Dominica Freedom Party; for their advisory about the likely deterioration of social order, proved to be spot on.”
“The police repeatedly informed Mr. Linton and other members that the meeting should end immediately, but he refused to comply. Fellow Dominicans, friends, and well-wishers, this is where the breakdown of respect for law and order began.
“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’.
Skerrit said that during the disturbances on Tuesday night, life bullets were fired on the police by the protesters, who had clearly marked out the businesses to be looted and destroyed.
He said 32 male individuals were arrested for various offences in relation to the reported incidents and that investigations are continuing into the overall conduct of the meeting and protest action.
But Linton had a different take on the disturbances. He said the Financial Center was never under threat neither was there any 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 Center,” he stated.
But Linton said Skerrit should stop hiding “behind the word intelligence.”
He added: “I think it is important enough for the people of Dominica to go beyond the veil of intelligence and get to the bottom of this because we are being accused of plotting a coup to overtake the government of Dominica when absolutely no such thing happened.”
Linton described the allegation as “another lie” that the Prime Minister has concocted in order to secure the sympathy of Dominicans.
“Why is the sympathy of the people of Dominica so important to Roosevelt Skerrit at this time?” he stated. “Why is it that Roosevelt Skerrit can spend 30 something minutes talking about what happened in Roseau on Tuesday night, unfortunate as it was, but he cannot tell us what he was doing in Greece shortly after the arrest of his friend, his brother AlirezaMonfared, diplomatic holder, diplomat of Dominica, his trusted friend whom he defended to the hilt when Dominicans were asking questions.”