Owen Arthur

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The Right Honourable
Owen Seymour Arthur
Owen Arthur-2.jpg
Leader of the Opposition (Barbados)
In office
18 October 2010 – 26 February 2013
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart
Preceded by Mia Mottley
Succeeded by Mia Mottley
Constituency Saint Peter
5th Prime Minister of Barbados
In office
6 September 1994 – 16 January 2008
Monarch Elizabeth II
Governor General Nita Barrow
Denys Williams (Acting)
Clifford Husbands
Deputy Mia Mottley
Preceded by Erskine Sandiford
Succeeded by David Thompson
Personal details
Born (1949-10-17) 17 October 1949 (age 67)
Political party BLP
Spouse(s) Julie Arthur
Children Leah
Mother Iretha “Doll” Arthur[1]
Father Frank Leroy Arthur[2]
Residence Ilaro Court 1994–2008
Profession Economist

Owen Seymour Arthur, PC, MP (born October 17, 1949) is a Barbadian politician who was Prime Minister of Barbados from 1994 to 2008. To date, he is the longest serving Barbadian Prime Minister. He was Leader of the Opposition in Barbados from 2010 to 2013.

He led the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) to victory in the 1994 general election and won general elections again in 1999 and 2003. In the 2008 general election, his party was defeated by the Democratic Labour Party and its leader David Thompson. Arthur stepped down as party leader, but remained the Member of Parliament for the constituency of Saint Peter. He subsequently returned to lead the BLP in 2010, but he was replaced as party leader after the BLP lost the 2013 general election.

Early life and education[edit]

Arthur was educated firstly, at The Coleridge and Parry Boy's School and then later Harrison College (Barbados) and then the University of the West Indies - Cave Hill, Barbados and Mona, Jamaica where he earned a BA degree in Economics and History (1971) and an MSc degree in Economics (1974). After graduating he held positions with Jamaica's National Planning Agency and the Jamaica Bauxite Institute before returning to Barbados and joining the Ministry of Finance and Planning in 1981.

Political career[edit]

Member of Parliament[edit]

He was appointed to the Barbados Senate in 1983 and elected to the House of Assembly in 1984. He was chosen to serve as Leader of the Opposition in 1993 very shortly after giving notice that he was considering departing from politics due to his inability to survive at a satisfactory level on the means of an MP.

Prime Minister[edit]

From 1994 to 2008, he was the leader of the Barbados Labour Party. In September 1994 the Labour Party won the general elections which made him Prime Minister. He won general elections again in January 1999 and 2003. In 1995 he was appointed a Privy Counsellor which bestowed him the title of "Right Honourable."[3]

One of the main platforms of Prime Minister Arthur for the 2003 elections was his promise to transform the country into a Parliamentary republic, replacing Queen Elizabeth II with a Barbadian President as Head of State. Arthur stated a national referendum would be held in 2005. However, this was pushed back in order to speed up the implementation process for the Caribbean (CARICOM) Single Market and Economy, and the focus of his term was directed to the hosting of Cricket World Cup 2007.

Leader of Opposition[edit]

In the general election held on 15 January 2008, the Barbados Labour Party was defeated by the Democratic Labour Party, winning ten seats against 20 for the DLP. DLP leader David Thompson was sworn in on 16 January, succeeding Arthur.[4] Despite the party's defeat, Arthur was re-elected to his own seat from St. Peter constituency with 65% of the vote.[5] He also said that he felt he could still contribute to CARICOM.[6] On 19 January, he stepped down as BLP leader, saying that he felt an immediate leadership transition would be in the best interests of both the party and Barbadian democracy; former Deputy Prime Minister Mia Mottley was chosen as the new party leader. Arthur said that he intended to serve out his parliamentary term.[7]

In 2010, Arthur was given a vote of confidence by four of his parliamentary colleagues to return to the Leadership of the BLP after they expressed dissatisfaction with Mottley. Arthur was sworn in on 18 October 2010 as Barbados' new Opposition Leader.

In the February 2013 general election, the BLP was narrowly defeated, obtaining 14 seats against 16 for the DLP. Arthur was re-elected to his seat. A few days after the election, on 26 February 2013, the BLP parliamentary group elected Mottley as Leader of the Opposition, replacing Arthur. According to the party, Arthur was not present on the occasion in order to "give the members of the parliamentary grouping the freedom to choose the future of the Barbados Labour Party".[8]

Honours and awards[edit]

Arthur is a recipient of the Order of José Marti of Cuba.

Owen Arthur with George W. Bush

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Obituary of Frank Arthur, CBC Barbados
  2. ^ Obituary of Frank Arthur, Nation News,
  3. ^ JCPC (1995). "Privy Council Members". Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. Retrieved 21 June 2010. 
  4. ^ "Thompson sworn in as Barbados PM", Xinhua, 17 January 2008.
  5. ^ Election result page for St. Peter constituency.
  6. ^ "Arthur: Still a role for me", nationnews.com, 18 January 2008.
  7. ^ Trevor Yearwood, "Mia takes over", nationnews.com, January 20, 2008.
  8. ^ "Mottley replaces Arthur as opposition leader in Barbados", Caribbean360, 26 February 2013.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Erskine Sandiford
Prime Minister of Barbados
1994 – 2008
Succeeded by
David Thompson