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Roosevelt Skerrit


Incumbent
Assumed office 
8 January 2004
President Nicholas Liverpool
Preceded by Osborne Riviere (acting)

Member of Parliament
for Vieille Case
Incumbent
Assumed office 
31 January 2000
Preceded by Vernice Bellony
Majority 684 (50.66%)

Born 8 June 1972 (1972-06-08) (age 37)
Political party DLP
Residence Vieille Case
Morne Bruce
Alma mater New Mexico State University
University of Mississippi
Religion Roman Catholic
Website [1]

Roosevelt Skerrit (born June 8, 1972) is the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica as well the Member of Parliament for the Vieille Case constituency. Regionally, he has served as the Chairman of the OECS.

Contents

Education and Early Experience

Skerrit attended the Portsmouth Secondary School before transferring to the Dominica Grammar School, where, as a high school senior, he was elected 'head boy', President of the Student Council. He began his college education at New Mexico State University and transferred to the University of Mississippi, from where he graduated with a BA in English and Psychology. While at New Mexico State University he was also president of the Dominica Students Association.[1] He was initially a member of the youth arm of the Dominica Freedom Party (DFP), the Young Freedom Movement, but became a member of the Dominica Labour Party (DLP) when he returned to Dominica from college. He was an English lecturer at the Clifton-Dupigny Community College until he was elected to parliament for the Vieille Case constituency in the February 2000 elections.

He initially served as Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs and upon the death on 1 October 2000 of Prime Minister Roosevelt Douglas, Skerrit was made Minister of Education, Sports and Youth affairs. As Minister of Education, he established the Dominica State College. He also led a secret mission to the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Barbados, irrespective of the fact that Dominica already had diplomatic relations with the Republic of China on Taiwan.[2]

Tenure As Prime Minister

On the death of Pierre Charles on 6 January 2004 he was nominated to be the country's prime minister and was sworn on 8 January, aged 31.[3] After becoming prime minister, he was elected as the political leader of the Dominica Labour Party.[4]

In April 2004, Skerrit established diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China, severing relations with the Republic of China (Taiwan).[5] As part of the move, Beijing agreed to give the country an aid package of over US$100,000,000.

In the 2005 General Elections, he retained his seat by an even wider margin and his party gained one seat in the Parliament. His party won 12 seats in the parliament and 52% of the popular vote.[6] The DLP defeated the Edison James-led opposition United Workers' Party who won 8 seats and 44% of the popular vote. The opposition sought to criticize his age[7] and relative inexperience, as well as pointing to the country's generally poor economic performance since the 2000 elections.[8] The DLP response was that the poor economic performance was due to irresponsible borrowing during the UWP administration. Further, he noted the country's aid package from China and used his young age to mobilize youth voters. Following the election, he assumed the ministerial portfolios of Finance, Planning, National Security and Overseas Nationals.

A Caribbean Development Research Services Inc (CADRES) poll conducted from February 2-5, 2007, found that Prime Minister Skerrit was the most popular leader in the country with 58% of respondents favouring his leadership.[9]

In a cabinet reshuffle announced on October 16, 2007, Skerrit assumed the portfolios of Foreign Affairs and Social Security, while remaining in charge of Finance;[10][11] he gave up the portfolios of National Security and Economic Planning, which he had previously held.[11] He subsequently relinquished the Foreign Affairs portfolio on November 18, 2008, while again taking over the National Security portfolio.[12]

International Relations

Skerrit has forged a close relationship with leftist leaders Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez, which has resulted in Dominica receiving substantial aid from Cuba and Venezuela. Dominica is set to play a major part in the Petrocaribe initiative; crude oil from Venezuela will be stored on the island for distribution to other islands. Further, the Venezuelan government has given Dominica a US$10.1 million grant for the expansion of the Melville Hall Airport and forgiven the island nation's US$1.5 million debt to Venezuela. On February 16, 2007, Chávez paid a state visit to Roseau, a rare visit by a major head of state to the island, where he inaugurated a fuel storage tank as part of the Petrocaribe initiative.[13] Skerrit's administration agreed to join the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas.[14] In addition, Skerrit announced that his government had agreed to the construction of a US$80,000,000 refinery on the island.

He is currently the Chairman of CARICOM.

Also lack of an international airport in Wesley is one of the main problems in Dominica said to have a Task force set up in 2009 to deal with the problem

Notes

  1. ^ "2005 Candidates", Dominicaelections.com, May 5, 2005.
  2. ^ "The Summer of Discontent", The Dominican, July 28, 2003.
  3. ^ "Education minister named new Dominica leader", CNN, January 8, 2004.
  4. ^ "Prime Minister Skerrit Elected as Labour Party Leader", The Dominican, March 2, 2004.
  5. ^ "Country profile: Dominica", BBC, December 9, 2006.
  6. ^ "Dominica Election 2005 Official Results", Dominica Elections, May 5, 2005.
  7. ^ As of July 2008, Skerrit is the youngest elected national leader in the world. ("Foreign Policy Ranks Bulgaria PM among World's Ten Youngest Leaders", Sofia News Agency, July 10, 2008)
  8. ^ "Dominica re-elects prime minister", Caribbean Net News, May 9, 2005.
  9. ^ "Dominica's prime minister leads popularity poll", Caribbean Net News, March 30, 2007.
  10. ^ "New Cabinet in Dominica", Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation, October 16, 2007.
  11. ^ a b "Dominica PM Makes Cabinet Changes", Hardbeatnews.com, October 17, 2007.
  12. ^ "Dominica PM fires minister, shuffles Cabinet", Caribbean360.com, November 19, 2008.
  13. ^ "Venezuela's Chavez opens fuel storage facility in Dominica", Jamaica Gleaner, February 18, 2007.
  14. ^ "ALBA Radiates Light to the Caribbean", Prensa Latina, February 19, 2007.
Political offices
Preceded by
Osborne Riviere
Prime Minister of Dominica
2004 – present
Succeeded by
Incumbent
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