Unrest Intensifies in Dominica Ahead of Elections; Airline Cancels Flights and Regional Security Troops Prepare to go in

The main road in Marigot has been blocked with burning debris. (Photo Credit: Dominica News Online)

ROSEAU, Dominica, Wednesday December 4, 2019 – Dominicans demanding electoral reform, including a clean-up of the voters’ list and the issuing of voter ID cards, have staged fierce protests, prompting Seaborne Airlines to cancel flights until at least tomorrow. And members of the Regional Security System (RSS) are to be deployed to maintain law and order.

The protests, which have attracted international media attention, saw demonstrators blocking the two main roads leading to the Douglas-Charles Airport.

Seaborne Airlines said in an advisory on its website that “uncertain situations in Dominica” have created some operational challenges that have forced it to change its scheduled flights.

“Wednesday, December 4, 2019, our flight will be cancelled. Flights are planned to resume on Thursday, December 5, 2019, if conditions allow,” it said, adding that all change fees, fare differences and rebooking fees for later travel are waived to/from Dominica from Tuesday December 3, through Tuesday December 10.

Regional airline LIAT, however, said its service to Dominica continues as normal.

It issued a statement after reports were circulating on social media that the airline had been cancelling flights to the island.

“LIAT wishes to advise that all of its scheduled flights are operating into and out of the Douglas-Charles Airport, Dominica. No flights have been cancelled….LIAT flights are operating and passengers are advised to check in on time for their flights,” it said.

Protestors have set up fiery roadblocks in the north-eastern constituency of Marigot which is represented by Opposition Leader Lennox Linton.

In an address to the nation on Monday night, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit accused Linton and his United Workers Party (UWP) of encouraging the violence as part of its strategy to disrupt the election, and he called on the leadership to bring an end to the lawlessness.

“I am calling on them to tell their supporters to stop. I am calling on Linton and the UWP to put Dominica first,” he said.

But at a press conference yesterday, Linton made it clear that while his party was one of peace, it also stood for justice and supported the protesting residents who he said have been “oppressed and abused, hated and denigrated and denied of their fair share of national resources from the Skerrit administration for 20 years”.

“The people of Marigot are standing for issues of justice that need to be addressed. The justice issues for the people of Marigot are clear and need to be addressed before we start talking anything about peace. So yes, I support peace in Marigot and everywhere else in Dominica, but I support justice first. And when people rise and stand for justice, I don’t have a moral obligation to be talking peace, because I’ve been long enough on this earth to know there really cannot be any peace without justice,” he said.

Meantime, the UWP posted on its Facebook page yesterday that in light of “credible threats” made on Monday against Linton and his family, the party leadership had written to Police Commissioner Daniel Carbon, seeking police protection for him for the remainder of the campaign.

It is awaiting a response to the request.

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