Two days after he was barred by the police from accessing his office at the Parliament building in Roseau, Opposition Leader, Lennox Linton, returned to the facility on Thursday saying he has a Constitutional right to be there.
In a Facebook live statement made inside the office that was assigned to him, Linton quoted Section 66-1 and 66-22 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth Dominica (see below) and his instrument of office given to him by the President as the basis for him being there.
“As Leader of the Opposition I have the right to be in this Parliament building in the office assigned to the Leader of the Opposition,” he said.
On Tuesday Linton was prevented from entering the building by police officers dressed in military wear. He was already on the compound and after an exchange, he left with the police closing the gate after him. No reasons were given by the police for their action.
On Thursday, no police officers were in sight when he went back to the Parliament building and Linton said he had a right to be there even when Parliament is not in session.
“So when people ask, for example, what was he doing in Parliament when Parliament was not in session, people who have offices in the Parliament building are here every day, doing the work of the Parliament,” he stated.
He pointed out that he has used the office on many occasions, including the reception of foreign dignitaries.
“This office is used by me occasionally for a number of things,” Linton said. “I sit here and do some research, I read the relevant laws of Dominica, I may read for preparation for Parliament or just for understanding better what is going on with our governance. I have received a number of foreign dignitaries in this office, most recently a team from the International Monetary Fund and a couple of high commissioners representing their countries and I do this on a regular basis.”
Since the incident on Tuesday, Linton stated that he has heard many comments on the purpose of his visit to the office.
“Since that incident, I have seen a number of comments and there are people who flat out just refuse to accept that as the Leader of the Opposition, I have a right to be in this building, in the office assigned to me,” he noted. “Not that I owe anybody any explanation as to what I came here for or what I came to do, I don’t need to report to anybody. The Constitution does not require me to report to anybody if and when I wish to visit my office and when and for what purpose.”
Following the incident on Tuesday, Linton was condemned by some for his reaction when the police told him that he should leave the compound. Senior Counsel Tony Astaphan, for example, described the reaction as ” angry, vile, emotional, near schizo.”
But Linton said he was confronted by the ‘brutality’ of the police who were under instructions from political opponents and had the right to be upset. He stated that nowhere in the civilized world would such a thing happen.
“And people don’t expect you to get upset with that, they expect you to smile in the face of that brutality,” he noted. “You are confronted by the brutality of the police organization under instructions from your political opponents. They are threatening physical harm, they want to hurt you, they want to injure you, they want to drag you out of a compound where you have every right to be, every Constitutional right to be.”
DNO has attempted to get a statement from the authorities at Parliament but has been unsuccessful.
See full statement below.