CASTRIES – Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre has called for help from the Regional Security System (RSS) and has implemented 24-hour police patrols, among measures in response to deadly gun violence in the southern town of Vieux Fort.
“The Regional Security System and other assets have been contacted and will be on the ground early next week,” he said.
Since Thursday, seven people have succumbed to gunshot injuries in Vieux Fort.
“It is time to act, and I ask for your support. There will be some difficult decisions to be made, and some strong actions will be taken to deal with these cowards and criminals,” said Pierre, who is also National Security Minister, in an address to the nation late Saturday.
In announcing other measures to deal with the spike in violent crime, he disclosed that on Sunday, he would meet some civil society and business leaders to discuss the current situation and seek solutions.
Meanwhile, opposition leader Allen Chastanet voiced confidence in the police, following the incidents in Vieux Fort.
“This message really today is for our police officers to say to you that you certainly have my vote of confidence and that of many Saint Lucians. We are depending on you,” Chastanet stated in a video posted to social media.
“We appreciate that you are leaving your own homes and your own family members to come and defend us,” the former prime minister said.
“We really need the police officers to be strong, single-minded and to help bring calmness in our community.”
And while expressing sympathy to those who lost loved ones in the Vieux Fort incidents, he noted that the situation in the Southern town had generated a wave of panic and unprecedented fear.
“I understand that some people are resorting to evacuation of the South. But the reality is we are a small island, so what’s happening in Vieux Fort today we have no idea what tomorrow is going to bring,” Chastanet noted.
He also appealed to everyone, including community leaders and churches, to give the people solace and comfort.
“Know that we are in this fight together. We have given recommendations to the government. Hopefully they will heed those recommendations,” the former prime minister stated.
In addition, Chastanet observed that civil society and community leaders must play a strong leadership role, including supporting and instilling confidence in police officers to bring “‘this madness” to an end.
Chastanet said he offered prayers and intended to play his role as a leader to bring calm to “this sea of absolute chaos”.
“We can make it through this. St Lucia is better than what we are displaying.” (CMC)