Regional leaders have sent their tributes to former Prime Minister of Barbados, Owen Arthur, who died in Barbados on Monday from heart complications.
Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit praised Arthur for his contribution to the socio-economic development of 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.
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.
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”.
Also paying tribute to Arthur was Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness. Via social media, Holness said “Owen Arthur 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.”
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.
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.”
Arthur, Barbados longest serving prime minister, died earlier on Monday from heart related complications. He was 70.