DOMINICA-POLITICS-Political leaders with contrasting views of decision by opposition legislator to quit party

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The leadership of Dominica’s two main political parties Thursday gave contrasting opinions on the decision of Joseph Isaac to quit the opposition United Workers Party (UWP) and become an independent legislator.
Isaac had on Wednesday indicated he does not support “politics of division” or of “hate to the point where there can’t be a meeting of the minds,” for his decision to leave the party that won six seats in the 2014 general election.
In a prepared statement, Isaac, who said he was not prepared to take questions from the media, said he had tried unsuccessful for a long time “to persuade my party that there is a wisdom in changing from the traditional opposition approach to politics and to adopt a more nationalistic approach one in which the country comes first.
“I have tried selling the idea to the leader (Lennox Linton) the executive, the general council of the party but to no avail,” he said, adding that he was against the present party centered approach in favour of a more nationalistic approach.
While Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit welcomed Isaac’s position, his former leader, Linton brushed aside the allegation that the UWP does not have a nationalistic approach to politics, saying that the party prides itself on a “politics with principle” approach regarding the development of the island.
“When we seek, for example, to protect the national interest from having our diplomatic passports in the hands of bandits all around the world; it is the national interest that we are pursuing, not our personal interest.
“When we talk about jobs for young people, when we talk about equity in sharing relief supplies, equity in distributing material resources, housing material, building material to help people put their lives together, back together after the hurricane, we are talking the politics of principle that is driving our advocacy now for putting country first, making sure the people of the country benefit. That is what we’re about,” Linton said.
Skerrit said that while he intends to hold talks with Isaac at a later stage, he is nonetheless “heartened and inspired by the tone and tenor” of the announcement by Isaac regarding his departure from the UWP.
“It tells me that finally, some in this country, are coming around to the realization that a divided Dominica, especially at the national leadership level, will not progress at the pace that is required,” Skerrit said.
“I consider yesterday a red letter day for Dominica because finally, someone was willing to stand in the breach and say no – that is not the way.
“The government which I have the honour to lead, welcomes this magnanimous gesture and I intend as the leader of the government to request a meeting with Mr. Isaac at his earliest convenience to discuss a framework by which we can work together in the interest of Dominica and to the benefit of the constituents of Roseau Central,” he said.
Skerrit said this development, six and a half months in Dominica’s post- Maria recovery efforts, has come at a “perfect time” and announced his intention to address the nation on progress made and efforts to expedite recovery efforts, “particularly as they relate to persons still vulnerable to the elements.”
Linton said that he believes Isaac has misunderstood the principles of the UWP, saying “whether it be campaigning for electoral or insisting that the economy should grow so that young people can find jobs; so that we could get into green energy; so that we could do a better job with this resilient development of Dominica that we are talking about. It is for the benefit of the people and the national interest”.
He confirmed he had received correspondence from Isaac dating back to May last year, but said “I considered it to be confidential but he did indicate in that letter his difficulties with continuing as the Roseau Central MP….
“I thought we had gone over that because of the number of initiatives we’d been involved in together including key strategic planning initiatives as to how we were going to be moving forward. A lot has changed since Maria so, maybe this is one of them,” Linton said, acknowledging that he was surprised at the decision of his “friend” to quit the UWP.
“And for all of the struggles and the trials and tribulations that he went through, going through the campaign of 2014 and emerging successful on the party ticket and serving with the party in Parliament for the limited times that we were able to stand in the parliament in representation of the interest of our people. I want to thank him and I want to do so very sincerely and to wish him well in his future endeavours,” Linton added.

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