PRIME MINISTER FREUNDEL STUART last night paid homage to his predecessor David Thompson, while pledging that he would pursue the ideals for which the late political leader stood.
Speaking live on CBCTV Stuart gave a brief history of his former comrade’s early life, outstanding political career and terminal condition, before assuring Barbadians that he accepted the responsibility of leadership occasioned by Thompson’s death with humility.
“Upon my shoulders has now devolved the responsibility of leading the struggle in pursuit of those ideals for which he stood. With God going before me, I accept this responsibility with humility and a keen sense of duty, ever conscious of the fact, not only of the pressing needs of our nation, but also of his oft expressed confidence in me,” he said.
Stuart, 61, thanked Thompson’s wife Mara, and children Oya, Osa Marie and Misha, for what he said were the “sacrifices” they were prepared to endure while Thompson “was on loan” to the rest of Barbados.
“A compelling sense of appropriateness dictates that I thank them on behalf of the nation for the selflessness of which their sacrifices were so resplendent an example,” he said, offering similar gratitude to Thompson’s parents Margaret Knight and Charles Thompson.
Stuart noted that while all Barbados grieved at the tragedy of Thompson’s passing in the “flower of political youth”, the occasion had presented itself for Barbadians to display their national maturity for all to see.
He said Barbados would be in official mourning until after the former St John MP’s funeral.
“I expect that the discipline, dignity and restraint, for which Barbados is well known, will be the motivation for our conduct during this difficult period,” he said.
Stuart, an attorney-at-law, said arrangements for the funeral, as well as what occurred prior to it, would be the responsibility of Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, in collaboration with the Cabinet Office and in consultation with the late Prime Minister’s family.
Stuart, the parliamentary representative for the St Michael South constituency, assured Barbadians they would be kept abreast of arrangements for Thompson’s funeral, whose contribution to public life he described as “extended, substantial and wise”.
Stuart, a Foundation School Old scholar, became Barbados’ seventh Prime Minister after Thompson succumbed to pancreatic cancer last Saturday. (WG)