Owen in, Mia out
OWEN SEYMOUR ARTHUR is back at the helm of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP).
It took just 35 minutes for party chairman George Payne to announce yesterday that he, along with four other Members of Parliament (MPs), Dale Marshall, Ronald Toppin, Gline Clarke and Arthur himself, had voted in favour of the former Prime Minister to replace Mia Mottley as Leader of the Opposition.
“We have agreed that Owen Arthur will assume the leadership of the Barbados Labour Party. We have so informed the Governor General,” Payne told the media, after emerging from the party’s Grantley Adams House headquarters on Roebuck Street, Bridgetown.
Notably absent from yesterday’s meeting were Mottley and two MPs who supported her, Rawle Eastmond and Cynthia Forde.
“Mia Mottley called this morning and said that she would not be attending the meeting. We did not receive any indication of attendance from Rawle Eastmond and Cynthia Forde,” he said.
Christ Church West MP Dr William Duguid, who attended yesterday’s meeting, reportedly did not vote in favour of the former prime minister.
Arthur, who was sworn in as Leader of the Opposition at Government House yesterday evening, said in a short acceptance speech outside the BLP headquarters he had never envisioned taking back the leadership of the party from Mottley.
“This is a very difficult time for the country. It is a very difficult time for the party. It is a very difficult time for me.
“I think the world about Mia Mottley. There is nobody in public life in Barbados who I would have facilitated and enabled them to become as much as they could be,” Arthur said.
“I really do wish that Mia Mottley would have led the party to cause the people of Barbados to forget about me.”
The new Opposition Leader also made it clear that he would not want to lead a divided party and pledged he would “serve with all my heart and with all my soul”.
About 50 party supporters gathered outside the headquarters to witness the outcome of what has been regarded as a raging leadership battle over the past several weeks.
Before vacating the Opposition Offices at Parliament Buildings yesterday, Mottley called the process which ousted her “unfair”.
“To have a letter already signed by five persons since one week ago and seen by persons on both sides of the political divide is to charge me, convict me and sentence me and then try to tell the public you are being fair and civil by inviting me to the trial.
“Every Barbadian understands and many have expressed their shock and disapproval at the manner in which this matter has been handled. I therefore had to consider whether I could validate a process which was inherently unfair.
“I believe that principles come before party and party comes before personality even in the face of differences and dissent. Indeed, principles only mean something when it is inconvenient to stand by them.
“I am aware that there are some who feel that for the sake of the party I should have attended this meeting today and I respect their views. But right is right and wrong is wrong,” Mottley said.