Dominica’s opposition leader quits amid controversy

ROSEAU, Dominica, July 31, 2008 – Allegations of financial impropriety have prompted the resignation of attorney Earl Williams as the United Workers Party (UWP) political and opposition leader.

Mr Williams, who has allegedly been unable to account for more than EC$238,000 (US$90,818) which he received to purchase land in Dominica for a client based in the United States, said the decision was in the best interest of the party.

“This issue has raised questions about the leadership of the United Workers Party and its capacity for self correction at a time when the nation is diligently searching for solutions to the integrity crisis that engulfs our government. Nonetheless, this not a United Workers Party matter and it is only fair that in accepting full responsibility for it, I ensure that the party’s mission to rescue Dominica from the social and economic degradation is not adversely impacted by events in my legal and/or private life,” he said at a press conference on Wednesday.

“In the circumstances, I have decided to resign as leader of the Opposition in Parliament and political leader of the UWP.”

Mr Williams said he would continue to represent the residents of Salisbury, a constituency in the west of the island.

“I deeply regret the circumstances that have necessitated my decision to step down. And while I leave with a heavy heart, rest assured that as someone who has always placed the national interest above selfish, personal interest, I am duty bound to honor the wishes of the people of my constituency and will therefore remain their devoted servant in the nation’s parliament,” he said.

Mr Williams, who declined to take questions after making his statement, said that he was confident that when all the details were eventually revealed, he would be vindicated.

UWP’s deputy political leader, Ron Green, will take up the positions left vacant by Mr Williams who first became political leader in 2005 when former prime minister Edison James stood down. It was in July last year that Mr James also resigned from the post of opposition leader and Mr Williams took over.