Late Prime Minister of Dominica Rosie Douglas

Family, friends and the country on a whole on Sunday Morning October 1, 2000, started mourning the death of Dominica's fifty-eight-year-old Prime Minister Rosie Douglas. According to news reaching CAKAFETE, about 10:30 a.m., Sunday, the Prime Minister was found dead at his home in Portsmouth. The cause of his death is not yet known. The Prime Minister returned to the Island on Saturday September 30, from an extended trip that included Australia, Taiwan, Canada. His last stop was Jamaica. Douglas's Dominica Labour Party won 10 seats in the January 31, 2000, General Elections, and together with the Dominica Freedom Party, which won two seats, DLP and DFP formed a Coalition Government giving Dominica its first coalition government since gaining Independence. Douglas is the first active government minister to die while holding office since the island gained its Independence from Great Britain on 3rd November 1978. His brother Michael Douglas died while still a member of the Dominica Parliament. The late Rosie Douglas was Dominica's fifth Prime Minister and spend only eight months in office.
October 15, 1941 - October 01, 2000.
Post condolences on behalf of Dominica's late Prime Minister Hon. Rosie Douglas

Roseau, Oct 3, 2000.

Dominica gets independent Pathologist.
by Shermaine "Green" Brown
The Dominica Government has invited a pathologist from the University of the West Indies in Trinidad to participate in the autopsy on the late Prime Minister Roosie Douglas.

Mr. Douglas was found dead at his home in Portsmouth on Sunday October 1. Acting attorney General Bernard Wilthsire announced Tuesday that Professor of Pathology at UWI Trinidad and Head of Pathologist at the San Fernando General Hospital Hubert Daisley will work very closely with Resident Pathologist Dr. Bellot.

Mr. Wiltshire was quick to point out that this is in no way " to cast any imputations about the competence of our own Pathologist in Dominica."

He said the Government is satisfied with the very high standards displayed by the local Pathologist and this is in "no way a reflection at all, and I want to re-emphases that, on the competence of our Pathologist."

The highest-ranking Law officer said the sudden death of the late Prime Minister warrants a full investigation, which may show that he died from "perfectly innocent and natural causes, which we all fervently hope and did believe, that's probably the case."

In further defending the Government's decision to bring in an independent Pathologist the Attorney General noted that this would allay impressions abroad and from certain persons that the late Prime Minister's death may not have been from natural causes.

Condolence messages continue to pour in from all over the world following the death of Prime Minister Douglas. A number of local official functions have been cancelled including the "Double Ten" National Day Celebrations of the Republic of China on Taiwan, which was scheduled for October 10. There is still no official word as to when the funeral of the late Prime Minister will be held. Members of the Douglas have been arriving from all over the world for the funeral.

It is being speculated that the funeral will be held this Saturday in his hometown of Portsmouth.

Monday October 02, 2000.

Dominica's Prime Minister Rosie Douglas is dead.
By: Peter Richards

Rosie Douglas plans for facing the challenges in a radically altered world economic and trade environment died with him on Sunday, plunging a country of just under 100,000 people into official mourning.

Douglas, 58 who was sworn in as Dominica's fifth Prime Minister in February this year, died of an apparent heart attack on Sunday, hours after he had returned to the island from Jamaica where he had been attending a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) summit.

Caribbean leaders were expressing condolences at Douglas death with Trinidad and Tobago's Prime Minister Basdeo Panday saying he was 'shocked' at the news. Douglas's coalition administration was yet to name a successor, but it is widely expected that Pierre Charles, the deputy political leader of the Dominica labour Party (DLP) which Douglas headed would receive the nod. However Tourism Minister Charles Savarin was hinting that it was not a sealed deal, saying that the two political parties which form the coalition would be meeting in caucus "then they will meet as a cabinet to make a decision."

Savarin's conservative Dominica Freedom Party (DFP) holds two seats, while the DLP won 10 in the last general election held here on January 31, this year. The United Workers Party (UWP) which lost the election controls the other nine seats in the Parliament. However one of its members, Lorraine Bannis has since joined the coalition administration.

Charles said Douglas had sacrificed his life "for the under privileged and poor" not only in Dominica, but also throughout the Caribbean and the world.

"His life was really for the people," a visibly shaken Charles said on television in Trinidad."

The results of an autopsy is expected on Monday and the state-owned Dominica Broadcasting Corporation said that there has been no official word as yet on an official funeral for Douglas, the first head of Government to die while in office in the small Eastern Caribbean State.

According to the station, Douglas in a last interview with one of its reporters on Saturday night had indicated that he would have been briefing that nation on the success of his recent overseas trips that took him to a number of countries including Libya.

"He appeared to be extremely tired towards the end of the interview," said reporter Julian Morris.

The station said that the late Dominican leader had also planned to send condolence messages to Canada following the death of their former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

In the interview played on television in Trinidad, Douglas described Trudeau "as a good Prime Minister".

"We never agreed in my student days, but he was a good Prime Minister " said Douglas, a graduate in Political Science from the McGill University in Canada. Trudeau will be buried on Tuesday.

In 1969, Douglas was detained for his role in the student's Black Power uprising at the University and was due in Trinidad for two days later this month for a reunion with other students who also attended the University during that period.

"He swore to me then he would one day be the Prime Minister," Dr. Edward Michael of Trinidad and Tobago said on television on Sunday night of his school and lasting relationship with the late Dominican leader.

Rosie, who was never married, was the third son of a prominent business family in Portsmouth. His brother, Michael who died in 1991, was a former Finance Minister and leader of the DLP.

A firebrand Socialist, he had close ties with many countries including Cuba, Libya while also forging closer working relationships with Socialist and labour Party administrations in Europe.

"We continue to forge relationships in Africa and South America. As political leader, I have made this a personal crusade in the knowledge that benefits will follow for our country," he said in the run-up to the January elections.

Soon after he came to power, Douglas announced an ambitious plan to bring Dominica, a small fledging island, dependent on bananas, into full membership of the European Union, much to the charade of his Caribbean colleagues.

"Should I remain in the real colonial regime with the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP)," he asked in response to Jamaica's Prime Minister P.J. Patterson that ACP had helped advance the region's economic thrust. Douglas said that much progress had been made in his quest for EU membership following high level discussions with France and other Labour Party administrations in power in Europe.

In his book "Chains or Change" Douglas, spoke of the long suffering of "our brothers and sisters."

"Black Power does not preach hate white people. The Black Power Movement is firm in the belief that if all Dominicans are given the opportunity to learn and to develop their talents, we can together transform our country, and ourselves" he wrote in the book.

In the campaign for the last general election, Douglas said the globalisation process was threatening "the very survival of small states such as ours."

When he came into office, Douglas plans were to develop opportunities "for a private sector driven economy" in the hope of "ushering a new era in Dominica's advancement."

"My aim is to serve all the people of Dominica" he said. But less than five months after his coalition administration was sworn into office, his Agriculture and Planning Minister Atherton Martin resigned following differences with the island's vote at an International Whaling Commission on a sanctuary to offset Japan aggressive whaling programme. But Douglas had weathered the storm that followed amid media reports that his coalition administration was losing the confidence of the population. "We are much stronger than before," he confidently told IPS during a recent interview.

Peter Richards

Monday October 02, 2000.

Dominica mourns death of Prime Minister Roosie Douglas.
by Shermaine "Green" Brown

Dominicans are today mourning the loss of Prime Minister Roosie Douglas who died at his home in Portsmouth on Sunday October1. No successor has yet been named to replace Prime Minister Douglas. However the Labour Party parliamentarians at an emergency meeting Sunday night threw their support behind Deputy Leader and Minister for Communications and Works Pierre Charles to be named leader of the Dominica Labour Party and Prime Minister.

The President of Dominica His Excellency Vernon Shaw is expected to call in the leaders of the three political parties represented in Parliament to determine who commands the majority parliamentary support. But it is widely speculated that the Communications and works Minister and Deputy Leader of the Dominica Labour Party Pierre Charles is the heir apparent to head the eight-month-old coalition government.

The Dominica Labour Party captured 10 seats, the Freedom Party 2 and the United Workers Party 9 in the January 31 Election. However the UWP representation in the House of Assembly has been reduced to 8 following the crossing of the floor by Loreen Bannis-Roberts of the Castle Bruce Constituency in July this year to join the Coalition Government

There is still no official word on the arrangements for the state funeral of the late Prime Minister Douglas, however all national flags on the island are being flown at half staff and the National radio station has changed its programming since the news of the death of Mr. Douglas on Sunday. Public sympathy and condolence messages from local organizations and groups locally and from the region fill the airwaves of the national radio.
Prime Minister Rosie Douglas Mr. Douglas who would have celebrated his 59th birthday on October 15 was the fifth Prime Minister of Dominica since attaining independence in1978. He is the first head of government to die while in office. The other heads of government including eighty one year old Dame Mary Eugenia Charles are all alive and well.

Roosvelt Douglas was the third son of a prominent family in the

north and is the third one in his family to enter into politics following in the footsteps of his father RB Douglas and his brother Michael Douglas who died in 1991. Douglas was involved in the liberation struggle of black people all over the world and having studied Political Science it was inevitable that he would have gotten involved in party politics of his country.

In the 1980 General Election Douglas contested the PaixBouche Constituency on a Democratic Labour Party (DemLab) ticket headed by Oliver J. Seraphin. He was defeated by Independent Candidate Jenner Armour with a margin of 203 votes. In the 1985 General Election, Douglas as leader and only candidate of the United Labour Party defeated Independent Candidate Jenner Armour in the Paix Bouche Constituency by 61 votes.

In the 1990 General Election Douglas contesting on a Dominica Labour Party ticket headed by his brother Michael Douglas lost the Paix Bouche Constituency to Freedom Party Candidate Jenner Armour by a margin of 38 votes.

Following the death of his brother Michael in1991 Roosie Douglas contested and won the Bye-election in the Portsmouth Constituency and held on to it till his death.

In 1995 as Leader of the Dominica Labour Party he defeated the Freedom Party Candidate by 898 votes and in the 2000 general election he secured the widest margin of 1163 over the UWP Candidate.

In accordance with the Dominica Constitution a bye-election is expected to be held in the Portsmouth Constituency within three months of the seat being made vacant. There is no word as to who the DLP candidate will be but if Mrs. RB Douglas has her wish it will not be another Douglas be it son, daughter or grandchild.

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