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SHORTLY after receiving the instrument of appointment from Governor General Sir Clifford Husbands at Government House yesterday, Barbados’ new Prime Minister Freundel Stuart addressed members of the media assembled outside.

Stuart disclosed he had just taken the oath of office, “the Parliamentary Group of the Democratic Labour Party having met earlier this morning and decided that I should become chairman of the Cabinet and next Prime Minister of Barbados, subsequent to and consequent on the passing of the Honourable David Thompson”.

He said the DLP and the nation were in a state of grief owing to “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 the year 1987 when he got elected to the House of Assembly as the Member of Parliament for St John”.

Minister of Commerce and Trade Senator Haynesley Benn recalled: “He always said, ‘Benn, look at your dot on the wall’ . . . he always gave everybody around him an opportunity to grow . . . . I have learnt a lot from him in terms of forgiveness, in terms of principles, in what I can do.

Speaker of the House of Assembly Michael Carrington: “I always noted when he came into the House of Assembly. There always seemed to be a change in atmosphere, irrespective of what was happening at the time – even if he just came in and sat down.”

Former Opposition Leader Mia Mottley: “I knew David from school days. While we served on opposite sides of the political aisle for the last two decades there was always mutual respect. This was sometimes misunderstood in the deep but unfortunate tribalism of Barbadian politics.

“There was no doubt from his days at school what his passion was. His was a life of public service. His love of Barbados was clear to all. His commitment to his party was unquestionable.”

Leader of the Opposition Owen Arthur: “Prime Minister Thompson was one of the most remarkable Barbadians of his generation. His death, at the height of his intellectual and oratorial skills and powers, unfortunately means that we will never truly get to know the full extent of his possible contribution to the development and transformation of the Barbadian economy.”

Sir Richard “Richie” Haynes: “He would have regarded the emergence of so many young people at the level of governance as [the] fulfilment of a dream which he held for so many years, and may well have perceived that the torch has been passed substantially to a new generation of politicians who are capable of securing Barbados for Barbadians in the future.”

Sir Frederick Smith: “It’s a pity that he should die at this particular time. He has shown that only the good die young.”