United Workers Party (UWP) leader Edison James has accused the government of Dominica of provoking the people of the country by not providing the necessary finance to undertake electoral reform, including the provision of ID cards for general elections.
“I looked at the estimates of expenditure and revenue, and there is no provision there for allocating money for the ID cards, and the re-registration. I am saying that that is provocation by (Prime Minister) Roosevelt Skerrit. That is provocation of the people by Roosevelt Skerrit,” James said ahead of Tuesday’s presentation of the national budget.
Speaking on Monday night at a so-called People’s Budget event on the Roseau Bayfront, the UWP leader sought to rally into action, critics of the prime minister grouped under the banner of “patriots”.
James called for a pool of people to step up to manifest in a practical way through possible protest action, opposition to the Skerrit-led administration.
“We should have a pool of people, who are prepared to be the change warriors in this country, so that when action is called and action is to be taken to express our disgust, that you have at least a pool of people there who will ensure that there is a presence in the action that we must take,” the UWP leader said.
He urged the Dominica Police Force not to act against people in the country who exercise their constitutional rights to demonstrate against an administration they allege is corrupt.
“They are provoking the people because they believe that they have the police behind them, and if the people decide to rise up, the police will shoot them down in the streets of Roseau,” former prime minister James speculated.
“I am saying to the brothers and sisters, the police of this country, that they must make it absolutely clear to the authorities that they will not shoot down their brothers in the streets in order to continue to facilitate them in their nonsense,” the UWP leader said.
“Austrie getting fat on your VAT (value added tax),” James said, reeling out the names of ministers in what he described as a bloated cabinet of 16 ministers drawing inflated salaries of more than nine thousand dollars monthly, in contrast to average working people said to be feeling the real impact of poverty in Dominica.
He was not alone in calling for protest action against the current administration.
Hotelier and activist Athie Martin, a former minister of agriculture, urged truckers contracted to the Melville Hall to Pond Case road project complaining about late payments, to bring traffic to a halt in the capital.
Using the song “If I were a hammer”, Martin spelt out what various groups dissatisfied with the way the country is being governed should do to show that dissatisfaction in concrete ways.
“If I were a trucker, I would have brought my truck into town and blocked the roads entirely – if I were truckers, I would have stopped the country with my equipment until people started listening and make Gaddakhan (road project contractor) and whoever owed me, pay me, if I were a trucker,” Martin asserted.
He also called on farmers to act to protect their interests, suggesting that Dominican farmers should take a leaf from the page of French farmers who determinedly “stop Paris” to force the government of France to listen to them.
“We are at the point that unless people are prepared to stand up and do something for their country, you will lose your country,” the outspoken Martin said.