The ruling Unity Labour Party’s (ULP) candidate for South Leeward in the Dec. 9 general elections, Jomo Thomas, believes that his campaign office in Chauncey is being targeted.
He came to that conclusion after the building was set on fire Friday night, four months after it was gutted by a blaze and rebuilt.
“It is a rather unnerving development,” Thomas told iWitness News on Saturday.
“I must tell you I find it really tragic that the elections are gone and there is still this, what may well be — and I don’t want to speak out of turn, but you know there is the old saying that lightning don’t strike twice in the same place, particularly in the space of four and a half months this office is burnt, which seems to me that the office is a target,” Thomas told iWitness News.
“And from both a personal and political level, it is quite concerning to me,” said Thomas, who is also Speaker of the House of Assembly.
Thomas told iWitness News that he was asleep when he received a call around 12:30 a.m. Saturday saying that the office was on fire.
“It was really shocking to me, realising it was on October 16th last year that that office was burnt,” he said.
Thomas, who lives in Campden Park, said that he went to the office building with his mother and campaign manager.
“Apparently, someone saw the smoke coming and alerted the police, and they came and were able to save the structure — at least the wooden structure, because, the last time, the entire wooden structure was burnt.”
The office building is a two-storey structure, the ground floor of which is concrete and the upper section is wooden.
He said that when the building burnt on Oct. 16, there was a can of tar that was being used to seal leaks in the concrete roof of the ground floor of the building.
“The tar might have been used as an accelerant. As I explained to the police then, the can that the tar was in completely burnt,” Thomas said.
“And that oil structure was made of pitch pine, which is a very oily type of material, that might have helped in the acceleration of the fire,” he said of the original structure, which burnt last year.
The wooden section of the building was reconstructed using grooved plywood.
“So I guess it did not accelerate. Evidently, something was thrown into the window and when it went inside, it dropped on a chair. So part of the chair is burnt out, and it also caught a curtain. The curtain, for all intents and purposes, is completely burnt. The floor is scorched and there is a part under the window that is burnout as well,” Thomas told iWitness News.
Thomas failed in his bid to unseat the main opposition New Democratic Party’s (NDP) Nigel “Nature” Stephenson as MP for South Leeward.
He told iWitness News that he was at the office building on Thursday “because I still have a relationship with the people of South Leeward.
“I was there and I met with some people,” he said.
There has been a number of fire-related incidents in St. Vincent since the Dec. 9 elections, which the ULP won by eight seats to the NDP’s seven.
The NDP has rejected the results as fraudulent and has filed two election petitions.
In late December and early January, police say that there were two attempts to firebomb the corporate headquarters of state-owned electricity company, VINLEC.
Fire burnt a large amount of building material at the state-owned Public Works facility in Arnos Vale on Jan. 7.
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said that arson was suspected.
Eustace fires back at Gonsalves over Public Works blaze comments
Although it is probable that someone in the ULP started all the other fires, it makes no sense in this case. The Public Works building was obviously burned by the ULP, they had the most to benefit from it as well as the means. The NDP had neither. Now with the election gone, why would anyone burn this building? There are many things I do not like about Jomo, but he would most certainly not be involved in something like this. It makes no sense. All the act does is garner sympathy for the ULP, in which case, the ULP has the most to gain. It allows Ralph to continue playing the innocent victim for the almost certainty of a new election.
First of all we must consider if any relevant ULP documents were stored there before we attempt to apportion blame.
Did the fire start inside or outside of the building? Was there an electric point inside where the fire damage is worst? Were there any witness’s?
Of course Gonsalves would say arson was suspected because that’s what he would say.
Could this be a message to Jomo to get out of a constituency to which he doesn’t belong? He was parachuted in and now someone is burning him out. Keep in mind that he replaced a ULP candidate against the wishes of some people in the constituency, including Edgar. We know what happened to Edgar and so this could be payback time.
On the other hand ULP firebugs have been setting fires in SVG since last year and blaming vagrants. This could be another vagrant fire.
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