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Former Barbados Prime Minister Owen Arthur

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley says the Caribbean is a poorer place following the passing of the former Prime Minister Owen Arthur.

Speaking to reporters after the opening of the Gran Chemin Fishing facility, Dr Rowley said he was saddened by Arthur’s passing.

“I was shocked to have learnt of his death while watching the 7 o’clock news. I have not been in touch with Prime Minister Mia Mottley. I last saw him at work in Guyana in that unfinished business and I thought he will be with us for a lot longer. It shows tomorrow is a promise to no one,” Rowley said.

He added, “Prime Minister Arthur has made his mark in the region as a leader. He led Barbados strong and well. His passing leaves us poorer and we should comfort ourselves that the Caribbean is in a better place having had him. I want to extend my deepest condolences to people of Barbados for the passing of yet another Caribbean man.”

Rowley also said the matter of having election observers was now out of the government’s hands.

“We made the invitation and CARICOM and the Commonwealth are having difficulty getting people to agree to the conditions, making the physical movements and Commonwealth said they don’t have the financial resources. I think it is certain that the Commonwealth will not send anyone,” Rowley said.

He added, “Caricom is still trying to get a contingent who might be able to come in. The CMO intends to make some adjustment for them. We have to see what the Caricom Secretariat in Guyana comes up with. The last time I heard there were only three people available and willing to come. Let’s wait for the next two or three days. Even if we don’t get observers here, we don’t conduct our democracy based on observers.”

Dr Rowley said T&T has a distinguished history of free and fair elections.

“We have a long and distinguished record of conducting elections. If there are people who believe that is a requirement for election, they on their own with that. We will be happy to have observers and I am sure if they come they will endorse what we have done.”

he expressed confidence in the EBC.

“Our EBC is one of the better institutions and we have every confidence that the EBC will do a good job. If there are persons to make manima (sic) over elections, they on their own with that. We are ready for a smooth election, the EBC is ready and we will conduct the election with or without observers,” Rowley said.

Asked whether the observers will be placed on a 14-day quarantine, Rowley said, “That is a matter for the CMO but the general protocol is that anyone coming to country from outside has to engage in some kind of quarantine.”

More on Page 15.