It was with deepest regret that I received the news last night of the
untimely death of Prime Minister Pierre Charles of the Commonwealth of Dominica.
In addition to being colleague Prime Ministers, Hon. Pierre Charles was also a
personal friend of mine. We went back a long way and I will miss him greatly. I
will especially miss his quiet dignity.
With the passing of Prime Minister Charles, the people of the Commonwealth of
Dominica have had the extraordinary experience of having two successive Prime
Ministers die in office in just over two years. Their grief must be
At times like these, expressions of condolence seem insufficient. But the people
of the Commonwealth of Dominica are a resilient people who I am sure will derive
some tiny grain of comfort in knowing that their deceased Prime Minister was
well thought of throughout the Caribbean and the wider world as a courageous,
dedicated and competent leader.
Succeeding former Prime Minister Roosevelt “Rosie” Douglas, though in itself a
daunting task, did not bother Pierre Charles. He knew the difficulties ahead,
but accepted the responsibility to serve and protect the people of his beloved
His courageous decision to enter into a necessary but locally painful agreement
with the International Monetary Fund proved beyond a shadow of a doubt his
absolute disdain for “politics as usual”. He accepted that he had to pay a
political price for the greater good of his people and country. It cannot be
easy for any leader to embrace IMF-inspired policies and prescriptions. Pierre
Charles did, confident that it was in the best interest of his country.
The high office of Prime Minister did not change Pierre Charles. Throughout his
tenure, he remained the same humble, sincere and self-effacing individual who
had entered politics more than 20 years ago.
The people of Grand Bay, the constituency he represented with such distinction
for nearly two decades, will, I am sure, remember him fondly. They will remember
him as a people’s person who never lost touch with the common man. They will
remember a representative who never made promises he could not fulfil. Above
all, they will remember him as a man whose commitment to service was legendary.
That is how I too will remember my departed colleague.
Despite his health problems, Pierre did not shirk from his responsibility of
serving his nation. And while the people of the Commonwealth of Dominica may
consider the world a heartless place for talking yet another of their beloved
Prime Ministers away in such a short space of time, they can take comfort in
knowing that Pierre is free from his pain and suffering.
To his wife and children, on behalf of the government and people of St. Lucia,
please accept our heartfelt condolences on the passing of a beloved husband and
To the people of the Commonwealth of Dominica, St. Lucia shares your pain and
like you will shed tears for a decent and humble man. Take courage, knowing that
the work which Prime Minister Charles started will redound to the benefit of the
For our part, and as a mark of respect for an outstanding Caribbean leader, I
have instructed that all flags be flown at half staff for three days, beginning
Pierre Charles died for his country. May his soul rest in peace.