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St Lucia opposition leader expected to be arrested for participation in Black Lives Matter rally

By Caribbean News Global contributor

CASTRIES, St Lucia – Saint Lucia is under an extended ‘State of Emergency’ until September 30, 2020, with general elections expected under cover of COVID-19. This has so far authorised prime minister Allen Chastanet to operate as a-tin-pot-dictator; meantime, leader of the opposition Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) Philip J Pierre, announced that, “I participated in the Black Lives Matter Rally (BLM) on Friday morning (June,12) for which I now understand that I am to be arrested.”

At a press briefing June 15, 2020 opposition leader Pierre issued a statement and emphasised that “the people of Saint Lucia must put a stop to the injustice and the creeping dictatorship of this government. When a government is intent on being unjust to its people, then the people have a right to disobey its unjust policies.”

Opposition leader Pierre stressed that “ the ultimate act of disobedience by the people will be the removal of the government through the ballot box when … elections are called sometime during the next fourteen months. I urge all Saint Lucians to never forget the insults, victimization, vindictiveness, and acts of intimidation of this government,” added, “ that is why I participated in the Black Lives Matter Rally on Friday morning, for which I now understand that I am to be arrested. There was no reason why permission could not have been given for the rally, once there had been consultation on how the COVID-19 protocols would have been observed.”

Saint Lucia is a parliamentary democracy based on the Westminster model and signatory to many treaties and international institutions to which opposition leader Pierre messaged: “I want to advise the men and women of the Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) not to allow themselves to be used against their fellow brothers and sisters by self-serving politicians” reminded the officer that “they are to serve the people, not individuals or power-hungry politicians.”

Opposition leader Pierre further informed that “in any event, the prime minister himself had already openly flouted the regulations of the ‘State of Emergency’ through his canvassing in various communities the week before where he did not wear a mask and did not observe social distancing in the crowds with whom he mingled. So he cannot break the laws and expect other citizens to observe them. This is not leadership. It is dictatorship.”

Affirming one of the priorities of the SLP on assuming office, Pierre said: “We will be to reviewing, with the aim of correcting and/or repeal, all laws on our books which facilitate government pursuing actions and policies that violate the democratic rights of the citizens of this country.”

A commenter on social exclaimed: “You mean to tell me that they are arresting a parliamentary representative for going to a Black Lives Matter (BLM) rally? This is disappointing. I guess black lives don’t matter.

Chairman of the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP), Moses Jn Baptiste

Chairman of the SLP Moses Jn Baptiste commenting on the conduct of the United Workers Party (UWP) government said: “This is a government that remains a danger to the future of our democracy as it ignores our constitutional and parliamentary norms and procedures, while it passes laws in parliament without a deputy speaker, under the cloak of darkness, without prior consultation and discussion with the people most likely to be affected”.

On the events of June 14, 2020, where citizens participated in an “anti – Chastanet drive” around the island, were “harassed and frustrated” by the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) to which Christopher Hunte was arrested/detained, said Jn Baptiste, “the SLP vehemently condemns this oppressive and dictatorial action by the government.”

“When the SLP first agreed to the imposition of a’ State of  Emergency’ for the COVID-19 pandemic, the opposition warned the prime minister that he was not to abuse the powers given to him and that the SLP would be very vigilant in that regard. Last month, the opposition objected to the extension of the ‘State of Emergency’ by another four months as being unnecessary,” he said

The SLP announced that permission to hold a peaceful protest during the first week of October 2020, part of “a massive show of force to demonstrate our disapproval of the policies of this government.”

Note: Christopher Hunte was granted bail Monday evening, EC$500 with travel restrictions, etc.

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