Former Jamaica Prime Minister Edward Seaga Dies on his 89th Birthday

Edward Seaga died on Tuesday at the age of 89.

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Wednesday May 29,
2019
– Jamaicans are
mourning the death of Edward Seaga, the country’s fifth Prime Minister and
longest serving parliamentarian, who passed away yesterday as he marked his 89th
birthday.

The father of four died at a hospital in Miami, Florida where he was being treated since earlier this month.

Seaga – who
was prime minister from 1980 to 1989; led the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) from
1974 to 2005; represented the West Kingston constituency for 43 years; and had
been the last surviving member of the committee that drafted the country’s
constitution in 1962 – was described by Prime Minister Andrew Holness as a
great Jamaican.

“He served this country for most of his life. He was in this Parliament for over 40 years. He is truly a great Jamaican. He participated in the framing of the Constitution and the development of so many institutions which now define Jamaica,” Holness said yesterday in the House of Representatives where a minute’s silence was observed.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness (second right, front row) and Members of the House of Representatives observe a minute’s silence for the late former prime minister Edward Seaga.

He said
Seaga’s passing was also a difficult time for him.

“It is,
personally, a trying time for me, and I know it is also a very trying time for
his family. And though they were prepared and I was prepared, at the point of
the event you still can’t help but feel the emotional void that has been
created by his passing,” he said.

Holness
recently visited Seaga in hospital and he said yesterday that on that visit,
the former prime minister had expressed thanks to the Jamaican people for their
prayers.

“All Jamaica should know that when I was about to leave the hospital room, I held his hands and he squeezed my hands and said, ‘Thank you, Andrew, and tell the Jamaican people thanks for everything’,” he recalled.

Member of
Parliament for Central Kingston, Reverend Ronald Thwaites expressed condolences
on behalf of the Opposition.

He said
Seaga dedicated his life to the Jamaican people.

Former prime
minister Bruce Golding said that with Seaga’s death, Jamaica had lost one of
its most accomplished nation builders whose contribution to national
development spanned more than 50 years from the early 1950s when he conducted
research into the social structure and folk culture of both rural communities
and Kingston’s city slums.

“His
trailblazing achievements as Minister of Development and Welfare, Minister of
Finance and Planning and Prime Minister have left an indelible mark on
Jamaica’s institutional development and constitute a huge legacy from which the
Jamaican people continue to benefit…

“He was a
strong leader, firm in his convictions and fearless in his approach. He was
never daunted by criticism or controversy once he was convinced that the path
he was pursuing was the right one. In so many respects, history has vindicated
him. Edward Seaga has earned his prominence in the annals of Jamaica’s journey
as a nation and his contributions will be one of the pillars on which the
greatness that we achieve will rest,” Golding said.

Meantime,
Prime Minister Holness said arrangements are in place for Seaga’s body to be
flown back to Jamaica, and it will be received by the Government with the
appropriate honour guard in place.

“Thereafter,
there will be a State funeral and before that, his body will lie in State and
we will advise of a period of mourning,” he said.

Holness added
that a special sitting of the House would be held where Parliamentarians can
pay their respect to Seaga.

A younger Edward Seaga

In addition to helping to frame the constitution, Seaga played a significant role in the review of that constitution that led to the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms in 2011.

In 2005, when he retired from active politics, he was appointed a Distinguished Fellow of the University of the West Indies (Mona), whose Research Institute had earlier been named in his honour.

In 2008, he was appointed Pro-Chancellor of the University of Technology, Jamaica, and two years later he became the institution’s second chancellor.

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