Mere hours after her Barbados Labour Party (BLP) secured a crushing victory over the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) in the country's general election, party leader Mia Mottley has been sworn in as the island’s first female Prime Minister.
Following a victory, which was historic, both for her party and the country, Mottley took the oath of office before Governor General Dame Sandra Mason at Government House shortly after noon Friday.
The result represents the first time in Barbados' electoral history that a single party has secured all of the 30 seats up for grabs in the House of Assembly, unseating the DLP headed by Freundel Stuart one of the country's longest-serving governments.
While delivering her victory speech at the BLP's headquarters, Mottley said the win was a victory for the Barbadian people, who have endured a difficult time due to the country's economic predicament. Mottley also told the jubilant crowd that it wasn't a time for gloating and called on all citizens to join forces and help rebuild the country.
“There should be no time for gloating. We are all one people. We are Barbadians. We will need many hands to help make light work. We will rebuild Barbados together,” Mottley said. “We have to get to the task immediately.”
“I am deeply conscious that with the absence of an official opposition in the House of Assembly we will have to evolve institutional arrangements to be able to allow Barbadians to have a greater say in the governance of this country. All ideas must contend before the government takes a decision,” she added. “There is no way that there will be a mistrust of the absolute mandate that you have given us the people of the BLP. We will be your servants at all times.”
At the oath-taking ceremony, Mottley named Queen’s Counsel Dale Marshall as her Attorney General and oversaw his swearing-in ceremony.
Mottley assumes office at the difficult time for the Caribbean country. The Barbadian economy has struggled since 2009 in the wake of the global financial crisis. Weak growth and sizeable state budgetary deficits have also increased its debt to GDP ratio over the last few years and led to several international credit rating agencies repeatedly downgrading its economic outlook.
The BLP attacked the Stuart led government on its policy of high taxation and focused on strategies to reduce the cost of living during the campaign, promising to bolster public services such as garbage collection, public transportation, and infrastructure improvement.
Frustration over the longstanding DLP-BLP duopoly has caused a host of new political parties to spring up in the island of some 285,000 people with a record number of 135 nominees registering to contest the election.
Mottley, Barbados’ eighth prime minister, is expected to name the rest of her Cabinet by Monday.