Former Barbados Prime Minister Owen Arthur Dies

Professor Owen Arthur

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Jul 27, CMC – Former prime minister Owen Seymour Arthur died during the early hours of Monday, a brief government statement has confirmed. He was 70.

It  said the Arthur, the longest serving head of government, died at 12.26 am (local time).

Arthur, an economist, had been hospitalised earlier this month at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital after suffering heart related complications.

“The government of Barbados extends sincerest condolences to his wife, Julie, his daughters Leah and Sabrna and his extended family,” the statement said, adding that Colin Jordan, the Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations “will be the coordinating minister for the funeral arrangements”.

Arthur, served as prime minister on three occasions between September 1994 to January 2008.  He was Leader of the Opposition in Barbados from 1 August 1993 to 6 September 1994; and from 23 October 2010 to 21 February 2013.

He led the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) to victory in the 1994 general election and won general elections again in 1999 and 2003.

In the 2008 general election, his party was defeated by the Democratic Labour Party .Arthur stepped down as party leader, but remained the Member of Parliament for the constituency of Saint Peter. He subsequently returned to lead the BLP in 2010, but he was replaced as party leader after the BLP lost the 2013 general election.

Barbados Begins Three Days of National Mourning

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Jul 27, CMC – Barbados is observing three days of national mourning for former prime minister Owen Seymour Arthur, 70, who died at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital here during the early hours of Monday.

In a brief statement, the government said that “there will be a period of national mourning for three days (and) all flags will be flown at half-mast”.

Former Commonwealth secretary general, Sir Shridath Ramphal, said Barbados has lost a great son and the regional integration movement “CARICOM has lost a great West Indian. We are all the poorer for Owen’s going.

“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,” Sir Shridath said, adding “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”.

Arthur, Barbados’ fifth Prime Minister, was hospitalised in mid-July with heart complications. The country’s 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.

In 2013, Arthur stepped down from active after the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) was defeated by the Democratic Labour Party (DLP).

Following his decision to step away from active politics, Arthur was conferred with the title of Professor of Practice: Economics of Development by the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) in November 2018 and in January 2020, was appointed chairman of the Board of the cash-strapped regional airline, LIAT.

Arthur is survived by his wife, Julie and daughters Sabrina and Leah.

Dominica PM Praises “Regionalist” Owen Arthur for his Contribution to Dominica

ROSEAU, Dominica, Jul 27, CMC – Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has praised former Barbados prime minister Owen Arthur for his contribution to the socio-economic development of the Dominica describing him also as a regionalist, who fought for the betterment of the 15-member regional integration movement, CARICOM.

“When our country was going through very difficult economic challenges, we had the structural adjustment programme with the IMF, prime minister Owen Arthur then was one of the most strident supporters of our efforts in Dominica to the extent that Barbados granted Dominica a highly concessionary loan of US$10 million to assist with its financial and economic challenges,” Skerrit said on the state-owned DBS radio.

Skerrit said that Dominica ‘will remain eternally grateful” to Arthur, who was also ‘a very strong advocate at the Caribbean Development Bank *(CDB) and other international financial institutions in mobilising support for Dominica.

“Prime Minister Owen Arthur was a sharp shooter. He was a regionalist, an integrationist, very very experience and knowledgeable and for me it was more than a life time privilege to have worked with Prime Minister Owen Arthur around the table of CARICOM and I was able to learn quite a bit from him”.

Skerrit said that Arthur was committed to the development of the region and recently chaired the board of directors of the cash-strapped regional airline, LIAT.

He said as a young head of government, he had also been able to “reach out” to Arthur “to seek counsel and advice on many things.

“The Caribbean has certainly lost a sound intellectual and no doubt the Caribbean will be worse off with the absence of Prime Minister Owen Arthur, but as is written the Lord giveth the Lord taketh away and I hope he shall rest in eternal peace,” Skerrit said, extending condolences to Arthur’s wife, Julie and her children as well as Barbados.

Jamaica PM Says Arthur Was Passionate About his Country and ‘Dreamed of Regional Integration’

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Jul 27, CMC – Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness Monday described the former Barbados prime minister Owen Arthur as a person who “was passionate about his country” as he joined other regional leaders in expressing condolences to Arthur’s family on his death.

“Today I pause to pay me respects to a man who served Barbados and the Caribbean with distinction, former Prime Minister of Barbados, Owen Seymour Arthur. I am truly saddened by his passing,” Holness said in a message on his Twitter page.

He said Arthur, an economist, was “passionate about his country and the dream of regional integration.

“In the 1990s and early 2000s, he helped to shape the political scene in the region. I extend sincere condolences to the family of Owen Arthur and the people of Barbados,” Holness wrote.

St. Lucia’s Prime Minister Allen Chastanet extended “deepest condolences to Barbados” on the death of Arthur.

“Our heart goes out to his wife and daughters and all his family and friends and to the government and people of Barbados,” he added.

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary General, Irwin LaRocque said the entire Caribbean Community mourns the passing of an “ardent regionalist” in Arthur.

Arthur’s last regional public outing was to lead a Commonwealth Observer team to the March 2 regional and general elections in Guyana and in a statement, the main opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) said it was “deeply saddened” by his death.

“Our region has lost an eminent elder Statesman and a champion for equal rights and democracy,” the PPP/C said, adding that “Guyanese will forever remember Arthur’s defense of their right to choose their leaders democratically.

“The PPP joins the people of Guyana, Barbados, and the wider world in extending our sincerest condolences to Owen Arthur’s wife Julie, daughters Sabrina and Leah, and extended family.”

The Department of Public Information (DPI) in Guyana, carried a brief story from the state-owned Guyana Chronicle newspaper on the death, reminding that he was head of the Commonwealth observer delegation to the disputed elections.