Vincies among RSS force in Dominica for elections
At least eight Vincentian police officers are among personnel from the Regional Security System (RSS) who are in Dominica to “to assist with the preservation of law and order in the country.”
Prime Minister of Dominica Roosevelt Skerrit said he requested the “additional manpower” from the RSS is to “ensure that all our people and visitors are safe and free to move around.”
As a consequence of that request, both police and soldiers from regional law enforcement agencies have come together under the ambit of the RSS and have arrived in Dominica to assist with the preservation of law and order in the country, Skerrit said.
In recent weeks, roads in the ‘Nature Isle’ have been blocked and tyres burned, with protestors calling for the elections to be postponed until the voters’ list is cleaned up and national voter identification cards introduced.
Skerrit, in an address to the nation on Wednesday night said he was so concerned about the effect of the “lawlessness” and “holiganism” on safety and on the social and economic fabric of the society that he requested sister nations in the RSS to send them supoport for the police force, “just in case the instigators and perpetrators entertain the idea of continuing their nonsense…”
The RSS had requested 15 police officers from St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), a well placed source told SEARCHLIGHT. According to the source, should the additional lawmen be needed, they will join those already in Dominica.
SEARCHLIGHT understands that the local police officers journeyed to Dominica Tuesday night aboard the Captain Hugh Mulzac, the 140 ft vessel which was added to the local coast guard fleet about one year ago. The Vincentian law officers were joined on the journey by police officers from Antigua & Barbuda and St Kitts & Nevis who had flown south into St Vincent to make the trip north to Dominica with the Vincentians.
In his Wednesday night address, Skerrit said the Dominican law enforcement officers have exercised as much restraint as is “humanly possible” in the face of abuse and even threats of death.
He said all cruise ship calls to Dominica had been cancelled immediately and at least one airline had cancelled flights “due to the hooliganism of the supporters of the Opposition.”
The Dominican Prime Minister said the cessation of services to the island will remain in effect until after the general elections period when “this madness would have subsided…”.
Skerrit however said Dominica remains safe as there have been no injuries to persons or deaths.
However, within hours of Skerrit’s address, that status was to change after some were injured in the west coast village of Salisbury when police attempted to quell protest action by some residents.
According to information, the village was teargassed in the wee hours of the morning and residents awoke early Thursday morning complaining of burning eyes and being unable to breathe.
“My home Salisbury is under serious attack by regional forces and local forces….
“They are still pumping the entire village with teargas,” Hector John, the opposition United Workers Party candidate for Salisbury said in a Facebook post.
“They have cleared the road and are still pumping the village with teargas,” John said.
However, Police Chief Daniel Carbon said while there were no fatalities during the operation, three police officers were injured.
He stated that during the operation, police officers, including members of the RSS came under attack by persons who pelted them with stones, bottles and firebombs.
Carbon said the police were forced to defend themselves but no deadly force was used.
He said the police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd and protect themselves.
The police chief called on residents of both Salisbury and Marigot to conduct themselves properly as the island goes to the polls today.