Prime Minister David Thompson

Prime Minister David Thompson is currently on two months leave as a result of his illness and Deputy Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has assumed leadership of this country.

Mr. Thompson made this disclosure today during an address to the nation at his Government Headquarters office in Bay Street.

The Prime Minister noted that he had been operating at a reduced pace and said that it would not be fair to ask the country to do the same thing. He acknowledged that it would be a few weeks before he would be able to discharge his duties "in a manner

that is required in the circumstances". Accordingly, he requested the nation’s forbearance during this period.

Mr. Thompson added that he had not completed the regime of treatment as prescribed by his doctors and, therefore, had "nothing of significance to report at this time." However, he indicated that an evaluation would take place to determine if surgery was needed, cautioning that it "may be a complex and serious procedure"?? requiring him to be out of the island for up to two months.

"The public service of Barbados has a reputation for dedication to service throughout changing times, and I have every reason to believe that in these circumstances, my absence from this country will have minimal effect on the efficiency and effectiveness of government institutions", Mr. Thompson stated.

The Prime Minister said he had drawn comfort from the fact that the Barbados which he has the honour to lead, was still a caring and loving community "despite our many diverse differences and interests".

He explained: "During the past weeks, I have undergone observations, tests and medication, my doctors … put me on a rigorous dietary regime, which, of course caused me to lose weight. This was necessary, and I know that all of you have seen the changes…Fate has brought me to this place in my life and I know that God would never take us to a place from which his almighty power and loving mercies cannot deliver us."

Mr. Thompson thanked Barbadians for their concern and asked them to continue to uplift him, his family and the nation in prayer.

Underscoring the fact that these were testing times for him, his family and Barbados, he said "As I embark on one of the most trying periods of my life, I ask you to rally around the causes for which I have fought throughout my career as youth leader, a lawyer and a political leader. These causes can be summed up in the simple desire to take Barbados to the next level of development.

"I believe that every Barbadian deserves the opportunity to make a greater contribution to the development of our beloved country and the right to share in the resources that we create together. We are on the threshold of making a great leap forward to a happy, contented more caring and disciplined society. These are the final examinations before we qualify," he remarked.

As a result of his announcement, the Prime Minister stressed that the Deputy Prime Minister now had the authority to "make whatever decisions he deemed necessary, to keep the social and economic ship of state on an even keel".

He expressed continued confidence in Mr. Stuart’s ability to lead the affairs of the nation in his absence, pointing out he had his undisputed confidence and respect, as well as that of the entire cabinet and members of both the upper and lower houses of Parliament. In addition, Mr. Thompson indicated, the Attorney General "commands the greatest?? admiration and reverence of the legal fraternity."

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