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Dominica PM Promises Students at UWI Government Will Help

Opposition Member in Dominica Questioned Over Alleged Coup Plot {VIDEO}

Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has sought to assure Dominicans enrolled at the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies in Barbados that their studies will not be compromised due to the challenges caused by Hurricane Maria.

Students have been outlining concerns about their ability to complete courses, given that their parents at home are now focused on rebuilding their homes and lives after the Category 5 storm destroyed the majority of houses on the island in September.

Skerrit, who made a brief stop in Barbados yesterday on his way home from meetings abroad, told the students that his government will do all in its power to keep Dominicans studying at home and abroad enrolled in current programmes, whether it be at primary, secondary or tertiary level.

“We do not want any student dropping out because [his or her] parents cannot pay the fees… so let the word go forth from here this morning that your continued studies here in Barbados is not under threat, and will not be frustrated or terminated by any action of my government,” Skerrit said, adding that their skills will be needed to rebuild the country.

“We need you to complete your areas of study and come back home and help build the new Dominica. Do not waste…this opportunity to develop yourselves and equip yourselves for life’s challenges in the third decade of the 21st century.”

He also appealed to the students to work with the government in “easing the strain and overall toll” that the current challenges being faced by the students will have on the public purse, and he warned that his administration will not tolerate negative behaviour or those who squander their opportunities for higher education.

“We will negotiate with your various institutions of learning; we’ll also appeal to the kindness of your host country and its citizens and government; we’ll contribute as much as we can to the upkeep of your education. But I want…to appeal to you to not flaunt or take the opportunity for granted,” Skerrit said.

“The government of Dominica commits…to helping those who are serious about their education, through to the very end. But by the same token, I can give no such assurance to those whose attitude and behaviour is not consistent with what we would hope and wish for…There will be zero tolerance for bad attitudes and behaviours. One strike and you’re guaranteed to be out; full stop.”

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Was There A Coup Attempt In Dominica? PM Says Yes, Opposition Says No

DR THOMSON FONTAINE WAS TAKEN INTO CUSTODY ON SUNDAY AFTERNOON AS HE WAS LEAVING A LOCAL RADIO STATION, FIVE DAYS AFTER UNREST IN THE CAPITAL. (PHOTO: 767NEWS.DM)

 

A member of the Opposition United Workers Party (UWP) in Dominica is considering legal action after being questioned by police over an alleged coup attempt.

Dr Thomson Fontaine was taken into custody on Sunday afternoon as he was leaving a local radio station, five days after unrest in the capital, Roseau, that followed an opposition meeting at which calls were made for Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit and his entire Cabinet to resign.

“…I was surrounded by five armed men dressed in army fatigues who identified themselves as police, grabbed my phone and bundled me into a waiting van,” Fontaine wrote on his Facebook page.

“I was told that I was arrested on suspicion of inciting violence related to an opposition meeting on Tuesday,” he added, noting that he was interviewed for approximately three hours “surrounding my involvement in a planned coup to overthrow Skerrit”, before being released and told to return to the station the next day 9 a.m. for more questioning.

However, after further interrogation yesterday, he was released in the afternoon without charge.

A day after the unrest in the capital that resulted in businesses being looted, fires being set and other acts of violence, Prime Minister Skerrit had told the nation that police were been informed about a plan by the opposition to carry out a coup that day.

Dr Fontaine, an economist, said he was accused of being involved in such an alleged plot and that he faced “ludicrous charges” in his interview with police.

“…Some of which included, for example, that I, Thomson Fontaine, paid individuals to stone the buildings on Tuesday and to set fire to a building …Charges that I find to be preposterous. I wasn’t prepared to answer to any of those charges, so I maintained my silence, the interview continued and at the end of the interview I basically waited until I was told that I was free to go,” he said.

“In light of the severity of the accusations made against me, I must review my legal options, because it cannot be that the government can tarnish your good name in the international community, it cannot be that this government can accuse me of things I know absolutely nothing about and not do anything about it.”

When Fontaine was questioned on Sunday and yesterday, supporters gathered outside the police station calling for his release and reiterating their calls for Prime Minister Skerrit to step down.

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Looting, Roadblocks and Disturbances Follow Anti-Government Protest In Dominica

PRIME MINISTER ROOSEVELT SKERRIT, IN HIS ADDRESS TO THE NATION, SAID THERE WAS AN ATTEMPT BY OPPOSITION FORCES TO “SEIZE THE SEAT OF POWER”.

 

Charges and countercharges are making the rounds in Dominica as police continue investigations to get to the bottom of Tuesday’s violent disturbance following an anti-government protest, which resulted in the vandalism of nine businesses and 32 arrests.

While Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has revealed details of an alleged attempt by opposition parties to “seize the seat of power”, Opposition Leader Lennox Linton has dismissed the claim as “another lie” the Prime Minister has concocted to win the sympathy of Dominicans.

In a national address last night, in which he painstakingly outlined the sequence of events leading up to the disturbance, Skerrit charged that it was the “militant, irresponsible behaviour of the leadership of the main opposition UWP and the Dominica Freedom Party (DFP) that triggered the action.

The Prime Minister said police had been tipped off about a plan by opposition forces.

“It is important for me to share with you the plan, which was relayed to intelligence personnel in the Dominica Police Force. Fortunately, for us all, not every member of the United Workers Party and Dominica Freedom Party is supportive of the militant, irresponsible behavior of the leadership. So, details of the plan had already been shared with the police and security officials,” Skerrit told the nation.

“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.”

Earlier in the day, the opposition parties led supporters in what was supposed to be an 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. public meeting near the Financial Centre where Skerrit’s office is located.

The Prime Minister said the meeting had proceeded “peacefully and consistent with the intent and spirit of the agreement reached between the police and the leaderships of the two opposition parties the day before”, but when Linton took control of the microphone around 2:50 p.m., “it changed the course of events and resulted in Dominica making world headlines all day today, and not for a good reason”.

After the meeting was finished, Skerrit said, the driver of the truck in front of the Financial Centre was ordered by police to proceed west, but it could not be driven forward because a mob was blocking it, and the atmosphere of the crowd then started to deteriorate.

“At about 6:30 p.m., the crowd started agitating and started chanting ‘Skerrit must go’. In all this, the leadership of the UWP and DFP said or did nothing to contain the emotions of their supporters,” Skerrit said, noting that earlier Linton had spoken for an hour and 15 minutes after the agreed time indicating that the meeting would only end when he was ready.

“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’.”

However, speaking on radio this morning, Linton hit back, categorically denying there was a 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 Centre,” he stated.

The UWP Leader also challenged the Prime Minister to reveal the source of his intelligence, maintaining that he had no knowledge of  the alleged plot.

“Lennox Linton, on behalf of the leadership of the UWP, is asking him to pull away the veil of intelligence and say specifically who was behind that plot,” he noted. “Call names, because whoever advised your intelligence would have told them where X or Y discussed that or told me that on such and such a time, ” Dominica News Online reported.

Linton was adamant since yesterday, that the looting and violence on Tuesday night had nothing to do with his party.

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FIRES WERE SET AS ROADBLOCKS. (PHOTO CREDIT: DOMINICA NEWS ONLINE)

 

Scenes of shattered store windows, scattered rocks and piles of debris in Dominica’s capital, Roseau, this morning were grim reminders of a night of violent protests.

Trouble had erupted hours after a public meeting and protest organized by the island’s opposition parties, at which demonstrators demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit.

According to reports, lingering protesters confronted police and then resorted to throwing rocks and bottles, breaking store windows and looting.

STORE WINDOWS WERE SMASHED AND ITEMS STOLEN. (PHOTO CREDIT: DOMINICA NEWS ONLINE)

 

Some also blocked roads by starting small fires on the streets, forcing police dressed in riot gear to fire tear gas to restore order.

Early this morning, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit toured affected stores in the City, vowing to issue a full response later in the day.

But in a strong statement issued this morning, National Security Minister Raymond Blackmoore not only described the violence as an attack on the state and democracy, but he blamed the Opposition United Workers Party (UWP) which led the protest.

He charged that the “stage was set by the leadership and operatives of the UWP” to attack the police and destroy properties in Roseau.

Saying the violence was “not Dominican”, he said “such acts are totally unacceptable” and vowed that police would get to the bottom of the incident.

“The police will continue to do its assessment of the situation for the express purpose of embarking on the necessary steps to maintain law and order in this country and to bring . . . all the culprits responsible to justice,” Blackmoore said

He praised police for their quick intervention and rubbished claims that they used unnecessary force.

“The police demonstrated the highest level of restraint and diligence and managed to stabilize the situation…”

However, UWP leader Lennox Linton has categorically denied that the violence had anything to do with the party’s meeting.

He said he condemned the “baseless criticism as forcefully as we condemn the lawlessness visited on the capital city on Tuesday night”.

Stressing that the disturbance occurred hours after the UWP’s meeting ended, he called on those responsible to “speak the truth”.

“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 damage to business enterprises and triggering fears for safety and security in a season of heightened tension in our practice of civility,” he said in a video posted on Facebook.

Linton said the UWP would meet in an emergency session today to discuss the incident.

 

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Comment by Corey Lathuillerie on February 11, 2017 at 10:58am
Which country democracy ever work
Comment by Marlene A THOMAS on February 9, 2017 at 4:02pm

Once you start; you cannot end Linton !!! You are Leading in the wrong Direction.........May God continue to watch over Dominicans who Respects Democracy!

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