Caribbean mourns death of former Jamaican prime minister

Thursday, May 30, 2019

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — Chairman of the Caribbean Community (Caricom), Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris of St Kitts-Nevis has extended condolences to the people of Jamaica and the Caribbean on the passing of Edward Phillip George Seaga, Jamaica's fifth prime minister and longest-serving parliamentarian.

Seaga died on Tuesday at a hospital in the United States on his 89th birthday.

“A strong sense of both regionalism and responsibility permeated the Rt Hon Edward Seaga's leadership style and politics, resulting in him being widely admired and respected as an influential force within the Caribbean Community,” the Caricom chairman said as he reflected on Seaga's life and political career.

Harris further noted that the 1982 Heads of Government Conference elected Prime Minister Edward Seaga as its chairman at what was a pivotal time.

“Notably, Prime Minister Seaga's assumption of the chairmanship of Caricom ushered in a dynamic era characterised by an increased momentum for regional integration,” the Caricom chairman said. “This translated into more frequent meetings of heads of government, and the approaching 10th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Chaguaramas, which was signed on July 4th, 1973, also heightened the drumbeat among the band of Caribbean leaders.”

Said Harris: “My colleagues, heads of government, and I will always carry Edward Seaga's hopeful message in our hearts as we strive to maintain the standing of our region as a zone of peace and stability, buttressed by respect for human rights and democracy. These are guiding principles from which we shall never depart, and we will long remember the crucial role that Edward Seaga played in establishing them.”

Other regional leaders have also extended condolences to the people of Jamaica following the death of the former prime minister.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley of Trinidad and Tobago said Seaga's service to the people of Jamaica and by extension the Caribbean, spanned several decades.

This enduring legacy, he said, remains the hallmark of an outstanding architect of independent Jamaica.

“On behalf of the Government and people of Trinidad and Tobago, in this time of loss and appreciation for a life of service, I express sincerest condolences to the family of Edward Seaga and to all the people of Jamaica. As Caribbean people, while we are poorer for his passing, we can take comfort in being richer for his unstinting dedication and service to all of us.”

Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley, in her message, said Jamaica has lost a statesman and this is the end of an era.

“His career reflects a man who appreciated the critical importance of institutions – especially as he set out to build a new nation — he will be remembered for this clear commitment to building institutions and infrastructure, not just in Jamaica, but across the entire Caribbean. We in Barbados say we have lost a Jamaican builder and giant.”

Born in Boston, Massachusetts to Lebanese-Jamaican parents, Edward Seaga led the JLP for over 30 years .

Seaga renounced his American citizenship during his early life and became the youngest person at the age of 29 to be appointed to serve in the Legislative Council.

He was also the youngest of the founding fathers who were architects of the Jamaican Constitution, as well as the last surviving member of that cohort.


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