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Gov’t ‘commandeered’ attendance at Independence rallies – Opposition

by: - November 7, 2013
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Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit hailed it as “one of the largest and most colourful audiences” he had ever seen assembled for the Independence Day parade

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit hailed it as “one of the largest and most colourful audiences” he had ever seen assembled for the Independence Day parade

The political leader of the opposition United Workers Party (UWP) has accused the Dominica Labour Party government of commandeering children and adults to attend two Independence rallies which they advised should be boycotted.

The UWP called on citizens to boycott the National Youth Rally and National Parade of Uniformed Groups on November 2 and 3 respectively in protest of the installation of President Charles Savarin.

On November 2, a record number of students and adults attended the National Youth Rally, which was described by Education Minister Petter Saint Jean as one of the best attended rallies.

In an interview on Q95FM on Wednesday, November 6, Mr Linton said the scores of students and adults who attended both rallies were forced to be there.

“If you’re commandeering children who are not normally at the stadium for the Youth Rally to be there or else, don’t you expect to see people there,” he posited.

National Youth rally crowd 2013There has also been suggestions that the government dictated all schools to attend the rally “or else”.

However, according to a copy of a memorandum issued to all schools by acting chief education officer, Melena Fontaine dated October 24; the Education Ministry “advised that ALL schools should be closed on Friday, November 1, 2013 to facilitate maximum participation and attendance by all schools at the National Youth Rally”.

“Please note that ALL schools in the Roseau catchment area should be in attendance in complete uniform and accompanied by their respective class teachers. Students should be seated by 8:30am,” the memorandum notes.

While Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit hailed the huge crowd at Sunday’s rally as “one of the largest and most colourful audiences” he had ever seen assembled for the Independence Day parade, Mr Linton claimed that they were only there to enjoy a “lime on a Sunday afternoon”.

MOE schools rally letter“Bus upon buses is being made available to people all across Dominica to transport them to the national parade, it has never happened before. If you are going into that new facility now of providing transportation for everybody who wishes to have a lime on Sunday afternoon to come down to Roseau, don’t you expect to see numbers at the stadium?”

He said it appears that the issue of the numbers “had nothing to do with what the call for the boycott was”.

Thus, his party cannot say that “Mr Savarin is any more suitable now for the position than he was before the boycott, he remains unsuitable. We cannot say that the procedure was corrected, the procedure remains unconstitutional”.

“You see the guns somewhere there in the background ready to take you out if you don’t send your child to the parade, if you yourself don’t hop on that bus and come to the stadium,” Mr Linton continued.

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