On 7 February, the opposition parties on the Caribbean island of the Commonwealth of Dominica held what they called a demonstration. They dubbed it, ‘D-Day’, which of course is synonymous with the allies launching a massive attack on Germany during the Second World War.
The reason for the demonstration is still unknown, but listening to the opposition leader it seemed to have to do with the style of governance of the present Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit and his government. It appears, from any objective onlooker, that there is really no good reason for what happened.
Anyway, the opposition was granted permission by the Commonwealth of Dominica Police Force and they agreed to conduct their demonstration from 11 am to 3 pm.
Well, they did not finish at 3 pm as agreed; neither at 4 pm. They finished after 5 pm. And, instead of dispersing the crowd, the leaders abandoned the scene, leaving their truck and supporters behind. What happened next was lawlessness.
The truck used by the opposition party was directed by the police to take a certain route to leave. The supporters refused, some even lying on the road in front of the truck, in defiance of the police orders.
Later, the mob started rioting, smashing and robbing from business places. The police had to use teargas to bring the situation under control. Live ammunition was fired at the police.
The question is, how can a political party have a meeting in the middle of a capital city and refuse to obey the directives of the police? How could the opposition party not be held responsible for what transpired?
They are guilty for all the chaos; they started the lawfulness by not abiding by their agreement and not complying with the lawful order of the police. The Opposition Leader, Lennox Linton, openly said that no police could tell them when to stop the meeting; they will stop at any time.
Now, when a leader start behaving unlawful, what do you expect from his followers? Is it not to follow the leader?
Linton’s United Workers’ Party has been repeatedly beaten by the Dominica Labour Party of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit. There are consequences for political defeat — whether in Dominica, Grenada or elsewhere. You do not get to be the government or set the government agenda.
And, whether in government or opposition, there are consequences for what you say and do. Herbert Volney, a Dominica-born former Justice Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, commented that Linton’s words seemed to be “an incitement to the couple hundred supporters to breach the law on public assembly and rallies. His words served the cause of confrontation with the police and the live streaming of the early evening suggested that anarchists in the crowd had taken his call to defiance seriously.”
Many Dominicans believe that more was planned, and the opposition is responsible for chaos on that night; an opposition appears to be impatient to wait for the next general election. They want power now at all cost. It is the height of political immaturity and political backwardness. The English-speaking Caribbean is well-known for political stability, since the collapse of the Grenada Revolution in 1983.
The opposition in Dominica certainly does not appreciate the value of political stability to a vulnerable and open economy of small island states. They are prepared to bring the economy of Dominica to a grinding standstill; but, for what?