Ailing Barbados PM re-shuffles cabinet

Ailing Barbados’ Prime Minister David Thompson announced on Sept. 30 that he will reshuffle his cabinet, effective Oct. 4, as he battles pancreatic cancer.

Thompson told the nation that “reduced physical capacity” has prevented him from fully serving the country. His ruling Democratic Labor Party (DLP) assumed office in 2008.

“My family and I are determined to battle this illness and are fully co-operating with the medical teams here and in New York to ensure that all that’s humanly possible is done to arrest and reverse this condition, while humbly recognizing that ultimately the will of God will prevail,” he said in the nationwide radio broadcast.

Thompson said, while he would continue as prime minister, he will now only have the added responsibility for National Security.

He said Attorney General Freundel Stuart, who acted as prime minister while he was hospitalized, will be the deputy prime minister and minister of Home Affairs.

Christopher Sinckler has been made minister of Finance and Economic Affairs that was once Thompson’s portfolio, while Ronald Jones will be the minister of Education and Human Resource Development.

Michael Lashley is the minister of Housing, Lands, Urban and Rural Development, with John Boyce serving as minister of Transport and Works, as well as leader of the House.

Denis Lowe would be the minister of Drainage, Water Resource Management and Environment, while Donville Inniss is the minister of Health, and Richard Sealy remaining the minister of Tourism.

Dr. David Estwick is the minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries, Industry and Small Business Development, with Esther Byer-Suckoo as the minister of Labor.

Senator Maxine McClean remains the minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, with Stephen Lashley as the minister of Family, Culture, Sports and Youth.

Steve Blackett is the minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development, with Haynesley Benn the minster of Commerce and Trade. George Hutson is the minister of International Transport and International Business.

Thompson said he would have liked to play a more significant role “particularly in these challenging economic times, when the signs are clear that full global economic recovery is still a fair distance away.”

“We, in Barbados and the wider Caribbean, should not bamboozle ourselves with the notion that recovery is dependent on factors of our exclusive design and making,” he said, adding that his administration had put in place several strategies geared towards cushioning the “shock and to minimize the impact of the economic decline.”

But he warned that the “weeks and months ahead will be equally challenging, and it is for that reason that I have assessed the future, in the context of my illness and reduced capacity, and have determined that it is necessary and prudent that I divest aspects of my ministerial portfolio that require robust, day to day oversight”.

Thompson said his “greatest wish” for Barbados, at this time, is for all nationals to use “adversity to refocus our energies on what’s best for Barbados, and that we wrap our actions and our utterances in the national flag and the furtherance of this great nation we call home.

“That’s my challenge to you. Unite and love,” he said, adding: “if we can unite first and foremost as sons and daughters of these fields and hills we call our very own, nothing will hold us back.

“We did it in the 60s and 70s, and we make no wanton boast of what we can achieve,” he continued.

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