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Barbados Prime Minister Thompson dead at 48

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Barbados Prime Minister Thompson dead at 48

2010-10-24 07:05:45 GMT+7 (ICT)

BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS (BNO NEWS) -- Barbadian Prime Minister David Thompson died after a short battle with cancer on early Saturday morning, the government confirmed. He was 48.

Thompson died at his home in Saint Philip on Barbados at around 2.10 a.m. local time with his family by his side. He had been suffering from severe stomach pain since March, but it was not until September that doctors formally diagnosed him with pancreatic cancer.

The Prime Minister had flown several times to the United States to undergo chemotherapy at New York's Presbyterian Hospital in order to shrink the tumor in his pancreas so it could eventually be removed. He died before the tumor could be removed.

Late last month, Thompson addressed the island nation with its roughly 285,000 citizens in a special audio address in which he, among other things, announced a reshuffle of his Cabinet and appointed Freundel Stuart as Acting Prime Minister.

In the address, Thompson said he chose to do it solely via audio and not on camera because he wanted people to focus on his message, and not on how he looked. This as a result of the chemotherapy he was receiving, causing him to rapidly lose weight.

Soon after the news was announced on Saturday, Bermuda Premier Ewart Brown hailed Thompson as a personal friend and an ally of Bermuda and a major figure in Caribbean politics. "I will cherish the memories of working beside him at Caricom Heads of Government meetings," he said. "Our condolences are extended to his family and to the many Barbadians who make their home in Bermuda."

The United States also conveyed its condolences to Barbados through U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who released a statement on behalf of U.S. President Barack Obama and on behalf of all Americans.

"Barbados has lost a leader and the nations of the Americas have lost a friend and valued partner," Clinton said. "Prime Minister Thompson was a champion for democracy and justice in the Caribbean and an advocate for wider prosperity and opportunity throughout the region. Today my thoughts and prayers are with his wife Mara and their daughters."

Clinton said Barbados is blessed with strong democratic institutions to ensure a smooth transition of power and said she is confident that Barbados' friendship with the United States will continue under new leadership.

Thompson, of the Democratic Labour Party, was elected the nation's prime minister after an election in January 2008. It was not immediately clear when new elections would be held.

Thompson is survived by his wife Marie-Josephine Mara and their three children, Misha, Oya and Osa-Marie.

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-- © BNO News All rights reserved 2010-10-24

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