Catholic bishop calls for end to violence in Dominica election campaign

Thursday, November 21, 2019

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ROSEAU, Dominica (CMC) — The Roman Catholic church yesterday reiterated a call for a peaceful general election in Dominica and described as a “very sad situation” the violence that has so far plagued the campaign for the December 6 poll.

“To me it is a very sad situation. That's as much as I would say. It's a very sad situation,” Bishop Gabriel Malzaire told a news conference, adding “I think we need to work towards correcting it because it is not a nice feature at all.”

On Monday, police fired tear gas to disperse protesters who have been calling for electoral reform ahead of the general election.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, who is leading the ruling Dominica Labour Party (DLP) into the general election has laid the blame for the incident on the main Opposition United Workers Party (UWP) and warned that the actions could paint the island in a negative light.

“As prime minister I strongly condemn the actions and conduct of the United Workers Party and its supporters.

The economy of Dominica will take a major hit from all the violence and anti-social behaviour being pursued by the Opposition in the lead up to these elections,” Skerrit said in a radio and television broadcast.

But UWP and Opposition Leader Lennox Linton has distanced the party from the fracas, saying that “The incident on the evening of November 18, 2019 was instigated by members of the police squad.

“It was not the protesters but the police that interrupted the flow of traffic to the entire south of the island because of a directive from higher authority that the people should be prevented from having an audience with the president, the key guardian of the constitution.”

Bishop Malzaire said he believes everyone deserves “a peaceful election and everybody is looking forward to this in the election.

“Because the loss of Dominica is a loss of absolutely every single person,” he said, adding that he has invited the Catholic congregation to “pray in preparation for that day and to fast and pray and to dispose themselves to something peaceful.

“Anything other than that is not worthy of what we are doing. So I will pray that the election will go on as peacefully as possible.”

The electoral commission said that 42 candidates representing the two major political parties were nominated to contest the 21 seats in the Parliament.


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