The St Philip-born attorney-at-law and father of one takes over at the helm of the Democratic Labour Party-led Government, following the passing of Prime Minister David John Howard Thompson last Saturday morning at the age of 48.
The late Prime Minister had been ailing in recent months, after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Thompson succumbed to his illness at about 2.10 am.
Following a meeting of the parliamentary group later Saturday at the DLP’s George Street Headquarters, Stuart, it was agreed, would be the one to carry on the mantle of the party, which regained the reins of Government in 2008, following 14 years in Opposition.
Speaking to the media moments after being sworn in by Governor General Sir Clifford Husbands at Government House, the newly appointed Prime Minister spoke very highly of his predecessor, under whom he served as Deputy Prime Minister.
“Of course the party is in a state of grief as is the nation, having regard for the fact that the Honourable David Thompson has been so critical to the public life of Barbados ever since his school days, but more particularly since 1987, when he got elected to the House of Assembly as the Member of Parliament for St John. Thereafter, he rendered inestimable service to the public life of Barbados and, of course, contributed much to the enrichment of public discourse in this country,” he stated.
Stuart expressed condolences to Thompson’s relatives, particularly his wife and three daughters, whom he said stood by him throughout his illness.
Governor General Sir Clifford Husbands, after he concluded a 52-minute swearing-in ceremony of the Barbados Cabinet, advised them to “gird your loins” and go back to work.
Minister of Family, Culture, Sport and Youth Stephen Lashley, who was reported to be out of the island, was absent from the ceremony.
Among those attending were Speaker of the House of Assembly, Michael Carrington, and Adriel Brathwaite, sworn in as Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs.
Brathwaite told reporters the Cabinet needed to go through “a healing process” but added that Stuart’s team was clear on the way forward.
“As a Cabinet, I believe, based on the conversation that we’ve had today, that we recognise what we need to do over the next couple of months and, indeed, the next couple of years, to take Barbados forward,” Brathwaite told the Barbados Nation.
“We will want to ensure that whatever we do will be to the honour of our former colleague.”
Flags are being flown at half-mast in Barbados during the period of mourning for Thompson whose state funeral is expected to take place next week.
The Barbados Nation yesterday reported that Thompson’s funeral arrangements are being co-ordinated by Senator Maxine Mc Clean, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade. It stated that the Downes and Wilson Funeral Home has been entrusted with Thompson’s body as preparations are made for the funeral which will take place during the first week in November.
Senator Reverand Dr David Durant was at Thompson’s bedside in his final moments.
The Barbados Advocate yesterday reported him saying that Thompson had many plans for the island. “He has not lived to fulfill any of them but our prayers will remain with his wife and three daughters,” Durant said in an interview last Saturday.
TT Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has expressed her condolences, commending Thompson’s dedication to helping others. Government officials could not say if she will attend Thompson’s funeral when the date is set. (See pages 13,14,15)