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DOMINICA | Opposition party critical of charges laid against members

Joshua Francis, parliamentary representative for Roseau South is among those charged Joshua Francis, parliamentary representative for Roseau South is among those charged
ROSEAU, Dominica, Aug 5, CMC – The main opposition United Workers Party (UWP) has described as “revengeful and discriminatory” the decision by police to lay charges against three of its members following the disturbances that followed an opposition organised protest outside the Office of the Prime Minister in February.

“I believe it is unnecessary, I consider it to be persecution, I consider it to be discriminatory, revengeful and ought not to have occurred. In light of the type of charges that has been laid, it suggests that we have partisanship in the investigation of those things,” said UWP public relations officer, Nicholas George.

Joshua-SummonsAmong those charged is Joshua Francis, the parliamentary representative for Roseau South, who has been charged with obstruction after the police indicated he had prevented law enforcement officials from removing a truck away from the building that housed the Office of the Prime Minister on February 7.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit had said then that the leadership of two Opposition parties here had planned to storm his office and “seize the seat of power” during the 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 main Opposition United Workers Party (UWP) and the Dominica Freedom Party (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 am to 3:00 pm (local time).

“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 (UWP) and the Dominica Freedom Party (DFP). 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.

The charges against the opposition members were laid three days short of the six month limitation and they are due to appear in a magistrate’s court on September 25.

George said the police have not responded to other reports made to them by the opposition, adding “if this is a trend that is going to develop in our country, it is a disturbing trend.

“The police have the authority to investigate and to prosecute and that I am not going to challenge. But to apparently discriminate against one set in favour of another then that is disturbing in a democracy and ought not to occur and that is where I place these charges,” George added.

  • Countries: Dominica