The opposition Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) has called for Christopher Hunte’s immediate release from police detention and the lifting of the current State of Emergency.
SLP Chairman Moses Jn Baptiste issued the call at a news conference Monday.
Jn Baptiste asserted that Prime Minister Allen Chastanet is clearly bent on using the State of Emergency for ‘suppressive political objectives.’
Christopher Hunte was detained Sunday afternoon by the police and taken to custody suites as an anti-government motorcade was near the fishing village of Canaries.
Police indicated that he was being held on suspicion of being the leader of the ‘unlawful’ activity.
However, SLP Chairman Moses Jn Baptiste told Monday’s news conference that the police have been unable to charge Hunte with any unlawful activity.
“The fact that Hunte and no one else out of the hundreds who were in the motorcade was arrested, clearly indicates that this was a deliberate attempt by the authorities to muzzle and intimidate a known critic of the government and the Prime Minister,” Jn Baptiste, who is also the MP for Vieux Fort North declared.
He said the SLP vehemently condemns what he described as ‘this oppressive and dictatorial action by the government.’
Jn Baptiste recalled that when the SLP first agreed to the imposition of a State of Emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic, it warned the Prime Minister that he was not to abuse the powers given to him under it and the opposition would be very vigilant in that regard.
He also recalled that last month the opposition objected to the extension of the State of Emergency by another 4 months as the SLP thought it was unnecessary.
Jn Baptiste asserted that Sunday’s events and the fact that the authorities denied permission for a Black Lives Matter rally at Constitution Park in Castries on Friday, proved that the opposition was right.
The Constitution Park rally went ahead despite not receiving permission from the police.