Opposition leader Allen Chastanet, who announced plans for a peaceful protest on Tuesday, November 1, declared that there would be no change if citizens continued to sit idly by and urged them to let their voices be heard.
“Our silence is being interpreted by this labour party as support. And while there are many Saint Lucians who I meet and say: ‘Well, I am going to wait for the day of election’, that’s too long,” the former Prime Minister asserted.
Chastanet spoke during a news conference on Monday
“We’d better let our voices be heard,” the United Workers Party (UWP) leader declared.
Chastanet’s incumbent party lost all but two of its 11 seats in the 17-seat House of Assembly after the July 26, 2021, general elections.
However, he said twenty-six percent of the eligible voters elected the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP).
As a result, he indicated that seventy-four percent either did not vote for the SLP or did not vote.
“If you don’t allow your voices not to be heard at this particular time, we’re in trouble and I for one will be standing in front of the line,” the Micoud South MP told reporters.
On Facebook last week, Chastanet invited citizens who are fed up with the SLP’s ‘ incompetence and abuse of power’ to join Tuesday’s protest from 8:30 am at Derek Walcott Square.
He called attention to the bad roads, the high cost of living, the out-of-control crime rate, the incomplete St. Jude Hospital, the ‘sale of Port Castries and Soufriere waterfront’, and all the social issues created by the SLP administration.
However, during Monday’s news conference, he also raised the matter of recent comments by House of Assembly Speaker Claudius Francis during his television talk show.
Francis had urged labour party supporters to fight fire with fire.
“You see me right now, I taking them head-on,” he said.
“No more Mr. Nice Guy. You want to interfere with me, and I keep telling you I don’t care when I’m fighting if my opponent is a giant or a dwarf. I am fighting with all the ammunition at my disposal – all. I (am)not saying because he is a dwarf, let me use a catapult, and because he is a giant, I will use a bazooka. Dwarf to giant getting bazooka,” Francis had declared.
Chastanet said he would not refer to the Speaker’s comments in parliament or question decisions Francis makes in the House of Assembly since that would be inappropriate.
But he described it as a declaration of war against UWP members, remarks Francis made during his recent television show.
“If the Speaker did not remember, let me remind him that I am an MP elected under the banner of the United Workers Party. I also happen to be the leader of the United Workers Party,” Chastanet stated.
“When he says he is going to come after people of the United Workers Party with a bazooka, that I would not include myself?” The UWP leader said.
He questioned whether Francis could be impartial and how, as a Speaker, he had dealt with the House Privileges Committee matter.
“I know the House is who has to fire him, but if he is a better person and he genuinely cares about the democracy and the image of Saint Lucia he would do the right thing and resign,” Chastanet declared.
In this regard, the UWP leader stated that Tuesday’s planned protest would allow people to show up and declare that the ‘ayes have it’.
“This is the first step, and if, in fact, the Speaker cannot see it fit to resign himself we have seen historically that another Speaker who, despite the evidence and had the support of the House remained in the House,” he recalled.
“It was the people’s parliament that caused him to resign,” Chastanet told reporters.
“We need to begin that process,” he said.