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Barbados selects first female PM in oppositional landslide victory



BRIDGETOWN (Reuters) – Barbados elected its first prime minister as the opposition defeated the ruling Democratic Labor Party (DLP) and won all seats in the Caribbean Island Parliament, as the election results showed on Friday.

The victory of Mia Mottley, 52, in the Thursday elections brings the Barbados Labor Party (BLP) back to the island of 285,000 people for the first time in a decade.

The Electoral and Boundary Commission said that the BLP had elected all 30 members of parliament and thus initiated the first purge operation in the history of the legislature. The DLP had previously a narrow majority with 16 seats.

"This victory is the victory of Barbados," Mottley said earlier this month in front of the BLP's Bridgetown headquarters, calling the outcome a vote for a broader and more transparent style of leadership for Barbados.

"This must be our legacy to the people of Barbados: giving them back their government and their governance," she said.

The result means that the Barbadian House of Assembly is without official opposition, despite the fact that unprecedented 1

35 candidates run for nine parties.

Former Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, who served since 2010, congratulated Mottley and admitted that the DLP had suffered an "overwhelming defeat."

"When successes are achieved, success will be shared by all who succeed and those with whom they are associated, but when it fails, failure will show a single man," he told reporters party center.

"I think there were some injuries in society in relation to some of the decisions that needed to be made."

The Barbadian economy has been struggling since the sharp decline in 2009 in the wake of the global financial crisis.

Weak growth has weighed on Barbados' sovereign debt, putting foreign exchange reserves under pressure and contributing to repeated downgrades of the island's credit rating.

The economic record of the DLP pursued Stuart in the campaign. Many voters were frustrated that the party could not lower its debt and living expenses, even though its taxes were rising.

Mottley, a former minister and attorney general, is scheduled to be sworn in as prime minister on Friday afternoon. She ordered all the schools closed for the day and declared a half-day vacation.

Reporting by Robert Edison Sandiford; Arrangement of Alistair Bell


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