Barbados begins 3 days of national mourning

FILE: Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Mottley and former Prime Minister Owen Arthur (Photo: Barbados Underground)

In light of the passing of former Prime Minister Owen Seymour Arthur, the Barbados government has announced that there will be a period of national mourning for three days, beginning today (Monday), and all flags will be flown at half-mast.

Arthur, 70, died at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital during the early hours of Monday. He had been in the intensive care unit (ICU) suffering from heart complications before he died.

Arthur, Barbados’ longest serving head of government, led the country for an unprecedented three consecutive terms from 1994 to 2008, having served as Member of Parliament for the constituency of St Peter from 1984 to 2013.

Paying tribute earlier today, Prime Minister Mottley said Barbados is the poorer for his passing. “His intellect was larger than life, believe you, me. His love of country as constant as a northern star.

“He discharged his duty as Prime Minister of Barbados and as a Caribbean leader with distinction. He shall remain in that pantheon of Caribbean leaders.

“On behalf of the government and the people of Barbados, we say thank you to Owen Seymour Arthur and to his family for his service to a grateful nation and to a proud people. To his wife, Julie, and his daughters, Sabrina and Leah, and his granddaughter, to his siblings, we extend our deepest condolences. To all who enshared his friendship and who supported him, we also extend our deepest condolences,” Mottley said.

Internationally-respected Statesman, Sir Shridath Ramphal, also hailed the contribution of the former Prime Minister to his country and wider Caribbean, saying that the Region is now poorer after his passing.

“Barbados has lost a great son. CARICOM has lost a great West Indian. We are all the poorer for Owen’s going,” Ramphal said.

“His last leadership role was to chair the Commonwealth’s Observer Mission to the Guyana elections where he distinguished himself for his courage in speaking truth to power. May his memory be honoured in the upholding of his candour.

“And may CARICOM for all time be guided by his credo of regional integration that marked his service to Barbados and the Caribbean Community entire,” Ramphal, a former Secretary General of The Commonwealth, said in a brief tribute.

Meanwhile, Peoples Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) Presidential Candidate, Irfaan Ali, in a tribute today said, Arthur will be remembered as a selfless, inspiring, fair and exceptional leader who definitely was a proud representative of Barbados.

“He has left his mark, a great legacy for all leaders to follow”.

Arthur recently headed the Commonwealth Observer Mission to Guyana for the March 2 General and Regional Elections.

Following attempts to derail the District Four tabulation, Arthur took a strong position in rejecting the blatant attempts to foist on the country discredited results.

Arthur had firmly stated that there are instruments of governance on which all relationships in CARICOM as sovereign countries, are based.

He had explained that Guyana, along with other CARIOM countries, is a signatory to the Charter of Civil Society and this places an obligation on countries to ensure that they follow key democratic practices – a main element being the holding of free and fair elections.

The former PM had advised that Guyana, which houses the headquarters for the regional bloc, cannot benefit from having itself portrayed as a “pariah state”.

He had expressed hope that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) would do what is required and move ahead in declaring a winner based on the results of the national recount which show that the PPP/C has won the elections.