Mia Amor Mottley has promised to treat the “very clear and decisive mandate” given to her Government by the people of Barbados with care.
Her Barbados Labour Party (BLP), was re-elected to Government on Wednesday with an historic consecutive clean sweep of the 30 seats in Parliament.
This is the second time that a political organization in the Caribbean has swept all the seats in general elections on consecutive occasions. The other organisation was the New National Party of Grenada, which in 2018 won all 15 seats for a second time.
Mottley was sworn in yesterday morning as Prime Minister along with Dale Marshall as attorney general by the President of Barbados, Dame Sandra Mason.
Speaking after the brief ceremony, Mottley thanked the people of Barbados and said she was “buoyed and humbled by the confidence” which the clean sweep signified. She however recognized the “tremendous burden” and gave the commitment to be the government’s chief opposition when necessary because she must not in any way breach the oath of office which she just took.
The Prime Minister also spoke of the Government’s mandate and priorities for the new term.
“We shall treat it with care as we have done before and we shall endeavour to continue the process of transformation, if our country is to be able to meet the challenges that we expect to face in the next 10 to 15 years….”
Mottley said apart from the challenges, the country has aspirations of development which include “above all else, that our people shall remain owners in their land and not tenants in their land….”
She said her government will have to continue its “strong engagement globally” because it allows them the fiscal and policy space to do what they need to do, but at the same time it allows Barbados as a small nation to “contribute in our own meaningful way to making the world a better place.”
Mottley said if one had listened to the media over the last year, one may have believed that the “Government would have been tottering, that we were on the back foot.”
She said she continues to be reminded of “the innate and inherent wisdom of the voter and Barbadians are far more perceptive than we give them credit for….
“It may well be that there was a disproportionate impact of a few voices in the media that did not reflect the will of the people.”
Mottley, who had already signalled that this would be her last general election, said the Cabinet will be announced on Monday, but over the next few days, she will take responsibility for the work of the Ministry of Health as the work against the COVID pandemic is a daily exercise.
Reacting to the news yesterday morning, Prime Minster of St Vincent and the Grenadines Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, congratulated Mottley on what he described as a “massive electoral victory,” and a “phenomenal political achievement”.
“It is simply extraordinary and what this victory indicates is that Caribbean people are not prepared to tolerate noises, really discordant noises from persons who don’t represent individuals in the country but who just go about maligning people and going to the lowest levels and the people prefer an uplifting developmental narrative. It is heartening to see the people listening and voting for what is structured and organized and uplifting and with quality leadership,” Gonsalves said.
He said he looked forward to working with Mottley on a continued basis and said in the normal course of “things of politics”, the Democratic Labour Party “may well become strengthened again.”
Wednesday made it seven out of eight victories in the St Michael North East constituency for Mottley, who easily defeated the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) candidate, Damien Griffith by a margin of 3,216 to 476. Roy Turney of the Bajan Free Party(BFP) polled 48 votes.
The general elections were called 18 months before they were constitutionally due, a decision Mottley defended by saying it was important to “take fresh guard” as the island moves into the future to deal with a changing global socio-economic situation.
During her victory speech late on Wednesday, Mottley said the three-week campaign had been “rough,” telling supporters, “We wanted to start 2022 as far as possible on a fresh guard…and you have given us that opportunity.”
“Tonight the people of Barbados have spoken,” Mottley said, vowing that the new administration would continue to put the nation’s welfare above any parliamentary majority.
The Barbados PM said she also wanted to address the allegation that her decision to call the election was to facilitate a one-party state in the country, “when in truth and in fact our Constitution admits in a multi-party democracy of the people giving all of the seats to one entity.
“I am a child of democracy, I know what it is to have known every single prime minister in this nation….and it is that solemn commitment in front of you, the people of this nation, in front of the people of the world and in particular in front of my parliamentary colleagues, that I swear today that we shall continue to keep the best precepts of democracy, transparency and accountability alive for the people of this nation.”
Earlier on Wednesday, the leader of the main opposition Democratic Labour Party (DLP), Verla De Peiza, conceded defeat, congratulating the BLP.
De Peiza, who led the DLP into a general election for the first time, was soundly defeated in the St Lucy constituency, considered a stronghold of the party, polling 1,095 votes as against 2,038 for the BLP’s Peter Phillips.
De Peiza said while she was conceding and congratulating the Mottley-led BLP, she had no immediate plans to step down as political leader.
“We will make those decisions at a later stage,” she said, adding, “I am proud of what I have established.”