ROSEAU, Dominica,– Opposition supporters took to the streets in Dominica on Friday, defying a police ban on illegal demonstrations, as they demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit and the Chairman of the Electoral Commission over electoral reform in Dominica.
Opposition Leader Lennox Linton said he had delivered a letter to the Office of President Charles Savarin asking him to secure “the resignation of Roosevelt Skerrit as prime minister or the alternative his removal from office on the grounds of gross misconduct in the Office of the Prime Minister that has severely injured the national interest of the Commonwealth of Dominica”.
Linton said while he had not been granted an audience with the head of state “I left the correspondence with his security at the front gate of the President’s residence”.
Asked whether he had given any ultimatum to President Savarin, Linton replied “not in this letter, we are asking him to act with haste. We did not specify any date”.
The opposition had also delivered a letter and petition to the Electoral Commission addressed to the chairman, Gerald Burton, calling for his resignation
Earlier, Police Commissioner, Daniel Carbon, had said that the main opposition United Workers Party (UWP) did not have any authority to stage a protest march in the capital on Friday and warned people against breaking the laws of the island.
“It is my understanding that the United Workers Party is planning to have a procession, a march, a demonstration or a protest action…Friday, 25th October 2019. According to what I have been observing the people are to gather at the Pottersville, Savannah (on the outskirts of the capital).
“I want to inform the general public that I have not received a request from the United Workers Party to have their activity. By law, anybody or any organisation wishing to have a march, protest action, a demonstration or a procession should write to the Chief of Police three days prior to holding that activity.”
Carbon said he has not received such a request and that the activity of the UWP “is unlawful.”
But Linton said he was pleased with the turnout by supporters “notwithstanding the scare tactics …by members of the Police Force on behalf of the (ruling) Dominica Labour Party.
“This turn out means that people in Dominica have effectively broke the fear barrier, they are not scared of the antics of the police. They recognise the rights they have under a democracy which are entrenched in the Constitution, the supreme law of the Commonwealth of Dominica.
‘They recognise that this is a democracy they need to get involved in protecting and maintaining and that this what this turn out this afternoon is all about,” Linton said.
Police had erected barriers on the road leading to the residence of the President as well as the Electoral Commission and attorney Gideon Richards, who is representing a number opposition politicians in matters before the courts described the turn out as “remarkable”.
He said the demonstrators were “peacefully obeying the police whom we love,” adding he was certain that “not all police officers were pleased with what’s going on.
“Our peaceful presence is the best way to fight them,” the former police officer turned attorney, said.
The opposition said they want electoral reform to be undertaken before the next general election that Skerrit told a public meeting of his DLP last would take place “within the next 100 days”.
The DLP controls 15 of the 21 seats in the Parliament.