Leader of the Dominica Labour Party (DLP), prime minister Roosevelt Skerrit, has withdrawn statements made at a rally in Calibishie recently, while his colleague, Reginald Austrie said he is not backing down from any statements he has made on the campaign trail.
At the Calibishie rally Skerrit had said that if he had a daughter he would not want that girl to be like United Worker Party (UWP) candidate for St. Joseph, Monel Williams.
“If I had a daughter, ladies and gentlemen, I would wish for her to one day be a Catherine Daniel, to be an Athenia Benjamin, to be a Nurse Charles or to be a Roselyn Paul,” Skerrit told supporters. “I would definitely not wish for my daughter to be a Monel Williams because I might end up short of a grandchild.”
The statement created a firestorm of controversy and was widely discussed and harshly criticized on social media. It was condemned by the UWP and although the statement was not specifically mentioned, the Dominica Christian Council (DCC) and the Dominica Association of Evangelical Churches (DAEC) said they were “deeply concerned about statements made recently from the political platform and on the radio with respect to candidates.”
At a DLP rally held in St Joseph on Saturday evening, Skerrit drew a conciliatory note saying he was withdrawing the statement and gave the assurance that he will not say anything of that nature in the future.
“Before I go on this evening I want to deal with a matter,” he said. “As your chief servant I do listen to your advice and to your guidance all of the time, because as your leader I have a responsibility to listen to you. And last time I spoke in Calibishie I made a statement which some of you were not happy about and you indicated to me that you were not pleased with the statement.”
He continued, “I want to say to you tonight that I withdraw that statement I made in Calibishie last week and I wish to apologize to anyone of you who was offended by the statement and I give you the assurances from hence forth you shall hear nothing like that from Roosevelt Skerrit again.”
But at the St. Joseph rally, Austrie, who is the DLP candidate for the Cottage constituency, took a different road from his boss.
He said while he saluted Skerrit for his action, he was not withdrawing any statements he has made.
“I salute Skerrit for withdrawing his statement but this little coconut not withdrawing no statement,” Austrie said. “Whether they like it or not, it is not my business.”
Known for his fiery speeches, Austrie has been criticized on a number of occassions for statements made while campaigning, but according to him, he has not mentioned any names.
“I didn’t call nobody name, I didn’t say nothing. I have nothing to withdraw and if they look for me they will get me worse as elections gets closer. I will expose them,” he stated.