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Barrow Sworn In as Prime Minister

May 30, 1986

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (AP) _ Errol Barrow was sworn in as prime minister of this tiny Caribbean island Thursday. Among his first acts in office was turning the government vehicles assigned to 12 Cabinet ministers over to the police.

He also declined to move into Ilaro Court, the $1.5 million mansion purchased by the previous government as the prime minister’s official residence.

″I could not in all conscience live there while there are people in Barbados subsisting in one-room shacks,″ said the 66-year-old Barrow.

In Wednesday’s general election, Barrow’s Democratic Labor Party won 24 of the 27 House of Assembly seats to return the party to power for the first time in 10 years. Teh incumbent Labor Party of Barbados was defeated.

Barrow, a London-trained lawyer and self-styled socialist, was instrumental in bringing independence 20 years ago to the Barbados, an English-speaking island of 251,000 people off eastern Venezuela.

Governor-General Sir Hugh Springer, Queen Elizabeth’s representative in Barbados, was in charge of the transfer of power ceremony to Barrow, who first served as prime minister from 1961 to 1976.

In Barbados, the party leader becomes prime minister for a five-year period when the party wins a majority of seats in the House of Assembly. A member of the British Commonwealth, Barbados has an electoral system similar to that used in Britain.

Before the election, the Democratic Labor party held 17 of the 27 Assembly seats.

The party had been weakened after leader and former Prime Minister Tom Adams died of a heart attack in March 1985. Bernard St. John became prime minister but did not sustain Adams’ style of leadership.

During the campaign, Barrow’s party promised to review its relationship with the United States. Barbados under Adams and St. John has become a staunch U.S. Caribbean ally and played a major role in the U.S.-led invasion of Grenada in 1983.

Barrow has more than once criticized President Reagan’s policies in the Caribbean basin.

Despite the criticism, observers here say the Barbados-U.S. relationship is not expected to change significantly.

Other factors working in the election victory were Barrow’s promise to reduce taxes and the cost of power, water and gasoline.

During the campaign, Barrow also said the government should sell its interest in the Barbados-based Caribbean Airways, the Hilton Hotel here and the government radio and television stations.

Barbados derives much of its revenues from tourism, with about half of last year’s 400,000 visitors coming from the United States.

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