The main opposition Barbados Labor Party (BLP) has dumped Owen Arthur as its leader following its second consecutive defeat in general elections held last week in one of the most prosperous Caribbean island nations where Oprah Winfrey and Tiger Woods own property.
Former three-term Prime Minister Arthur 63, did not attend the special high level meeting of the party in the capital, Bridgetown on Monday afternoon where elders and parliamentarians voted to oust him as the man who should not play the major role in helping the pro-business BLP regroup and reorganize for the future and prepare for five more years on opposition parliamentary benches.
Arthur who was widely respected in the region for his work in pushing for a single trading market economy while as prime minister, has been ironically replaced by the women whom he first handed over the leadership to when the party lost five years ago and wrested it back just a few months after pointing to problems with her lifestyle choices among other issues.
Mia Mottley, an attorney and member of a gentrified Barbadian political family, will be the new party boss and opposition leader. She had served Arthur as a deputy prime minister and was also widely respected regionally for her helping to put legal systems in place to accommodate easy travel for tourists attending the 2007 Cricket World Cup held in nations from Jamaica in the north to Guyana in the south.
When he first pushed her as his replacement in 2008, all appeared to be well in the BLP until the Prime Minister David Thompson became ill with cancer and later died in office.
Sensing an opportunity to capitalize on a perceived leadership vacuum in the governing Democratic Labor Party (DLP) Arthur engineered a proverbial palace coup and retook control from Mottley, leading to some public barbs that had to be smoothed over by party elders. She had said that she was the ousted victim of a “Kangaroo court.”
This time, the 14 legislators who will take up seats in the new 30-seat parliament, picked Mottley in Arthur’s absence and gave her the mantle to take the reins to battle with the DLP and its 16 seats without any fuss or stress.
“As secretary of the parliamentary group, I just want to announce that Mia Mottley was elected as leader of the opposition,” BLP Executive Member Gline Clarke said. “The party is united. Mr. Arthur felt he would give the members of the parliamentary grouping the freedom to choose the future of the BLP and we thank him and respect him for that. He has indicated he would be a full member of the House. We look forward to that,” Clarke said.