Opposition UWP protests
If at first you can't protest, try again.
Nine members of the United Workers Party (UWP), including members of parliament, this morning stealthily organised and held a two-hour protest, against government corruption, outside the Financial Centre in Roseau.
This was the UWP's first successful protest in four months since the December 2014 general election. During that period the opposition's efforts at demonstrating their dissatisfaction with the results of the election have been dampened by dozens of police officers and mounted metal barricades.
At this morning's unannounced protest, as opposed to previous attempts, the police were surprised; there were no barricades and no unusual police presence at the beginning of the protest.
It is left to be seen whether National Security Minister Rayburn Blackmore, who earlier described these attempts as clever ways of causing civil disruption, will follow through with his January 20th threat made on state-owned radio after the UWP attempted a demonstration outside the Woodbridge Bay port at Fond Cole.
"We have seen over the past weeks a calculated and creative attempt by some who do not want to accept that the people have exercised their franchise and voted for a party of their choice and they have tried ways to circumvent the rule of law by having, in a creative way, unlawful protest action," Blackmore said then. "What is happening, and we have sat down and spoke about it, is seemingly an attempt by a number of folks to provoke the state into an overreaction and to create a 1979 situation."
Blackmore said those behind such actions would face the force of the law.
"Let us put our energy and our talents to pushing this country forward," he said. "Having said that the persons who have been involved in masterminding those events, will face the full force of the law."
At this morning's demonstration the UWP said it was protesting Government's appointment of Dominica Labour Party (DLP) candidates who failed to win their seats at the December 2014 general election, included former ministers Ambrose George and Alvin Bernard, candidates Shanks Esprit (Salisbury) and Dr. Martin Christmas (Marigot). Communications consultant Charles Jong was also among persons who government appointed, the UWP said.
"Jobs for the boys," said leader of the opposition Lennox Linton. "We call it now the cabal employment programme. Four hundred thousand dollars for rejected members of the DLP."
Joseph Isaac, the Roseau Central Member of Parliament said the DLP government has not implemented any major programme so far, after 100 days in power since the December poll.
"All we are seeing is jobs for the boys", he said. "We are not saying that the rejected candidates should not eat and live. We are saying that should not be a priority now."
Opposition Senator Dr. Thompson Fontaine said the UWP needed to make a statement about "the excesses of the Government of Dominica" and that these jobs were created "out of the air" while "young people and other voters should be priority."
Meanwhile, on that sunny Monday morning just after offices opened following the weekend, about a dozen police officers calmly looked on while the protestors lined up holding placards, conducting press interviews, making phone calls, greeting passers-by, on the sidewalk outside the opaque glass windows of the Financial Centre.
At about 10am the protesters folded their placards and melted away up and down Kennedy Avenue, mission accomplished, it seemed. Will they return to protest against another issue, another day?