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Attorney General Levi Peters’ reference to Anette Sanford as a ‘drumstick’ ignites anger and condemnation

Attorney General Levi Peter.

Dominica’s Attorney General, Levi Peter, has recently found himself embroiled in a controversy for what many have labelled as a derogatory reference to Annette Sanford, the opposition’s presidential nominee, as a “drumstick.” This statement has elicited strong reactions from various quarters of society.

The incident unfolded following the election of Mrs. Slyvanie Burton as Dominica’s incoming president. On Wednesday, September 27, 2023, during a parliamentary session, Peter took the floor to criticise the opposition’s choice of Sanford, a former opposition senator, as their nominee for the presidential position. Expressing his discontent with the entire presidential selection process, Peter didn’t mince his words, stating, “I have contempt and disgust, and in a different forum, I would use stronger language for what has transpired in relation to the election of a president for Dominica.”

He also pointed out his anticipation of the opposition’s historical unwillingness to cooperate with the government but expressed disappointment that this continued even with what he referred to as the “reconstituted, so-called independent opposition…dressed in better clothes, smiley faces, but the same ridiculous nonsense.”

Peter emphasised the significance of the presidential role as a symbol of unity for the people and voiced his disappointment that the opposition failed to acknowledge this symbolism.

“However, taking the big picture, understanding what we are dealing with, understanding the historic step, understanding the candidacy, a woman, a Kalinago first and the symbolism, apart from anything else, that is contained within that person, understanding that the person is vastly qualified in terms of what the constitution requires for your position, that the opposition would have at least said we have concerns, but we will support. But no, they chose to put up a drumstick,” he said.

“Mr. Speaker, that is really the height of idiocy,” the attorney general further declared.

“This is a situation where there was no possibility… there was not a snowball’s chance in hell that that candidate could be elected in this house.”

Furthermore, he expressed his belief that Sanford’s nomination appeared to serve no discernible purpose from his perspective. He noted that the cynicism of the situation was exemplified by the fact that the leader of the opposition’s candidate “mimicked” the one put forward by the prime minister.

Throughout the week, numerous individuals, including Josephine Dublin-Prince, the President of the Dominica National Council of Women (DNCW), have expressed their profound anger and dismay regarding Mr. Peters’ statement.

Dublin-Prince emphasised the collective outrage that women should feel in response to the Attorney General’s derogatory comments. She remarked, “as women, we should be extremely angry, disturbed, and disgusted at the level that the attorney general has stooped to; to viciously and verbally attack another Kalinago woman, in the most degrading way. Every woman should condemn this statement and be equally angry. We cannot pull down one woman to pull up another.”

Dublin-Prince underscored that such offensive statements should not be tolerated by any member of the House of Assembly while emphasising the importance of solidarity among women.

“One woman hurt should affect all women,” she passionately declared. “We are aware that women have been the backbone of almost all aspects in the strata of development in Dominica. And to have referred to another woman in such a degrading way is unfortunate.”

She further insisted that the Attorney General either retract his statement or consider resignation as an appropriate course of action.

Lennox Linton, the President of the United Workers Party (UWP), has also joined the chorus of voices calling for action against the Attorney General. Linton has urged the newly elected president to take immediate steps to remove Peter from his position.

He stressed that Sanford had endured unwarranted mistreatment, being “disrespected, denigrated, demonised, and dehumanised” simply for participating in the constitutional process of selecting a president on a day when respect for women should have been at an all-time high.

He elaborated on the derogatory connotations associated with the term “drumstick,” stating that it carries a range of offensive meanings when applied to people.

“It could mean a chicken drumstick like the ones you find at KFC; the stick you use to beat a drum, a penis, the term is also used to refer to a wing woman who accompanies female friends to bars and clubs to assist them in seducing and picking up men,” he said.

Furthermore, the UWP president vehemently condemned Levi Peters’ conduct and firmly asserted that the president-elect, being a Kalinago woman, has a responsibility to make it clear that Peters cannot continue as attorney general in the government under her oversight.

“He must be removed and he must be removed now,” Linton declared.

He continued, “Madame president-elect, if you truly and sincerely love your country and you’ve truly stood to serve your country as opposed to Roosevelt Skerrit, your first order of real business for Dominica, [should be] the immediate removal of Levi Peter from the cabinet of ministers for his behaviour and conduct in the parliament on Wednesday especially in so far as it concerns the attack on your Kalingo sister Anette Sanford.”

Linton went on to add that if the president-elect does not take action, the people of Dominica will need to remind, Peter, Skerrit, and the new president, “who is in charge of Dominica and who really runs things in Dominica.”

Efforts have been made by Dominica News Online (DNO) to reach out to the leader of the opposition, Paul-Victor, who has chosen not to comment on the matter. DNO will also continue its attempts to seek Mrs. Sanford’s perspective on this issue.