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Volume No. 1 Issue No. 23 - Friday, June 28, 2002
Dominica radio personality Frankie 'Crazy-Tee' BellotMore Protests Planned Over Dominica Budget

by: Thomson Fontaine
Organiser of last week's protest in Dominica over the passage of this year's budget, Dominican radio personality Frankie "Crazy- Tee" Bellot (inset) has called off intended protest action originally announced for Thursday July 11. Mr. Bellot in giving reasons for his action said he did not want to be responsible for the deaths of innocent Dominicans on the streets of Roseau.

This came after a highly charged meeting in the village of Grand Bay by the Prime Minister in which he said "we have to face the total unrest they are formenting and have to call on you to fight back". Many of the loyal Grand Bay supporters at the meeting vowed to march on Roseau in support of the Prime Minister.

Many observers interpreted this as a veiled threat at retaliatory violence. In the meantime, the Public Service Union, which represents the civil servants has planned a one day demonstration on Tuesday to pressure government to reverse its stand on the budget.

In a telephone interview with the Dominican, the owner of Kairi FM radio had earlier vowed to stage massive protest action if government failed to review some of the measures outlined in the budget. Claiming that he was fighting on the side of the poor and oppressed in Dominica, Mr. Bellot expressed satisfaction with the popular support that he received in the first protest.

He also revealed to the Dominican that since staging the protest he has received several telephone threats on his life. Mr. Bellot said he was confident with his decision to cancel the demonstration since he was more concerned about keeping the peace in Dominica.

On Wednesday July 3, hundreds of Dominicans spilled into the streets of Roseau in protest over the passage of the latest government budget. Businesses around Roseau and environs shut down at noon and several workers went home early as the protesters marched on government headquarters. The protests came after repeated calls on the local radio station by Mr. Bellot.

Several speakers at the protest rally called on government to rethink its position on the budget, and ease some of the tax measures that were imposed. The $258 million budget narrowly passed the house with all the opposition MPs voting against and freedom party MP in the coalition government Frederick Baron choosing to abstain. Prime Minister Pierre Charles who returned to Dominica over the weekend from Martinique did not participate as he remains on medical leave.

Although the protest was peaceful, the police indicated that the march was illegal since the necessary approval was not given. Deputy police Commissioner Pierre-Louis indicated that protest leaders faced the possibility of a $10,000 fine or six months in jail. Meanwhile, a local newspaper in Roseau was reporting that there is growing dissension within the ruling party with some government ministers and party faithful calling for the resignation of the Prime Minister.

The recent budget came against the background of a Stabilization program proposed by the International Monetary Fund. On 1 July 2001, prices of fuel, cooking oil, as well as prices for several government services including passports were increased as part of the austerity measures.

In recent days, Kairi FM has used two popular programs 'The Hengue' and 'Inside Politics' to repeatedly denounce the budget and encourage public agitation against the rise in prices.

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Volume No. 1 Issue No. 23
What's Going On?
Health Tourism
Dominica's Reggae Artist
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Jean Rhys Dominica's Literary Icon



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