The demonstration came just two days after an important court case that members of the opposition say upheld their right to take court action to force the Speaker of the National Assembly to allow a motion of no confidence against the government which has been pending since 11th December, 2012.
They argue that the judge’s decision also confirmed that the current government was illegal and that the man holding the reigns as prime minister is no longer qualified to do so. On Thursday, 13th February, the opposition actually wrote to the Governor General advising him that they do not support Dr. Douglas as prime minister. They informed Governor General Edmund Lawrence that their support is for Dr. Timothy Harris, the leader of the newly formed People’s Labour Party, PLP.
When the opposition members hosted a press conference on Thursday 13th February, 2014, it was evident they did not intend for it to be “business as usual”, as it relates to their efforts to force the prime minister to either call fresh elections or resign.
Realizing that the 78th Meeting of the Monetary Council of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), was taking place in Basseterre at the ECCB, on Friday 14th February, Valentine’s Day, members of the joint opposition called Team Unity, took to the streets just after 8:00am to mount the latest in their public demonstrations, just outside the precincts of the Central Bank. They carried placards bearing various anti-government slogans but with most focusing on Prime Minister Douglas.
At just around 9:22 the main target of their protest, Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas made his way to the ECCB and immediately causing the protestors to become more agitated as they raised their placards higher and increased the volume of their anti-Douglas and government refrains. The Prime Minister appeared to have been caught off-guard as his official vehicle turned on to the Bird Rock Road, from the Frigate Bay Road in the east.
The sight of the prime minister brought opposition parliamentarians like PAM’s Deputy Leader, Eugene Hamilton, alive with him jumping and jostling to ensure that Douglas got the message he tried to communicate.
They protestors also capitalized on the busy Friday morning heavy traffic as hundreds of vehicles made their way into the capital city, Basseterre. They also intended for visiting dignitaries, including Monetary Council Chairman, St. Lucia’s Prime Minister, Dr. Kenny Anthony, to see that protest action against the government was alive and ongoing in the country.
In response, the authorities called out a large contingent of police from the special services to help ensure there were no breaches of law. Though the protestors, including former PAM leader Lindsay Grant and PAM candidate for East Basseterre, Ian Patches Liburd, were largely peaceful they however made known their feelings about the government’s refusal to have the motion being debated in the parliament. Both gentlemen could be seen arguing their points as police officers tried to move them away from the bank’s headquarters.
Amongst the group of opposition officials was the man they have identified to be the next Prime Minister, Dr. Timothy Harris, along with Member of Parliament and PAM leader Shawn Richards. Sam Condor of the PLP and Jonel Powell of PAM completed the list of candidates that were present. They were joined by a reasonably sized group of supporters who were there also to vent their feelings.