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BURN BABY BURN: Roseau Riots And Dominica Erupts in Flames Over Skerrit’s Government

CITY ON FIRE: The capital Roseau was lit up with flames as natives of Dominica rioted to protest Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit’s government.

ROSEAU, Dominica – A peaceful protest rally against Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit during the day on Tuesday in Dominica began to deteriorate as night fell and businesses were vandalized, prompting a vigorous response by security forces in full riot gear.

The police used teargas in an attempt to disperse the thousands of protestors and reportedly deployed snipers on key rooftops.

The street protests began last Thursday in the capital Roseau and then escalated on Tuesday with gunshots heard and fires burning.

The protests against the Skerrit government have increased rapidly, following disclosure of a series of interrelated scandals involving the issue of Dominican diplomatic passports to a number of questionable individuals, including an Iranian national wanted on sanctions evasion charges.

Skerrit has denied selling diplomatic passports to foreign nationals.

Response to the events in Dominica from regional leaders has thus far been muted and may be tempered by the fact that the current prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, came to power in 2001 on the back of similar public protests.

A spokesperson for Gov. Kenneth Mapp said that he was “otherwise indisposed” and not available for comment on the turmoil in Dominica, but added that the chief executive was not drinking.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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