BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - CHAIRMAN of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), Prime Minister Gaston Browne is calling for calm in Roseau, Dominica as the country prepares for general elections.
Violence broke out on Monday evening (Nov. 18) as protester took to the streets calling for Electoral Reform, among other changes, before the elections.
According to media reports out of Roseau, there is a call for President Charles Savarin to, among other things, postpone the general elections and implement Electoral Reform.
Monday’s protest saw tear gas being fired, protestors vandalising the city, garbage being littered around the city, and fires set in the streets.
In his call for calm, the OECS Chairman said: “A calm end to violence and other disruptive activity is essential to ensuring that the general elections in Dominica are conducted in an atmosphere that is free and fair.”
He further called for all parties to respect the law of Dominica and the constitutional provisions for holding general elections that reflect the will of the people.
Following the unrest, Dominica’s Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, in a national address, questioned whether Electoral Reform was the real reason for the unrest on the island.
“These events signalled the intrusion of violence into this election campaign in a manner that is unfamiliar, unnecessary and unproductive. He pointed out that elections would be held within 18 days and supporters of the United Workers Party could make their opinions clear in the ballot box.
PM Skerrit reminded the nation of the electoral laws that governed the island since it attained independence on November 3, 1978.
“The elections on December 6 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.
“It is this same process and these same laws that saw the United Workers Party increase its seat count in the last general elections in Dominica and also its share of the popular vote. It is with this same process and these same laws that the United Workers Party and its supporters are forecasting a massive win for the Opposition on December 6.”
The Prime Minister said he was informed that guests at the Fort Young Hotel were also impacted by street protests and tear gas.
“To ensure their safety, the hotel’s security guards placed the hotel on lockdown by closing the main gates. The situation at the hotel was one of fear and panic. Hotel staff asked guests to go to their rooms and many guests fled, abandoning their dinner, as the night’s entertainment came to an abrupt halt.”