Sad news for the people of Barbados: Their prime minister, David Thompson, died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 48. His deputy, Freundel Stuart, was sworn in this morning as the new prime minister. The next elections are scheduled for 2012.

Thompson, who became prime minister of the Caribbean nation of 270,000 people in January 2008, died before dawn at his private residence in St. Philip, according to a government statement.

Thompson had been ill since March and traveled to New York several times for treatment. He declined to discuss his condition until last month, when his doctor announced that Thompson had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was undergoing chemotherapy.

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In an address to the nation last month, Thompson said he was reshuffling his Cabinet to pass many of his responsibilities to other ministers. He said he chose to speak by radio instead of going on camera so islanders would focus on his message, not his appearance.

SOURCE: Associated Press

Elected as prime minister on a platform of community development, Thompson had been credited with restoring Barbados' Democratic Labor Party to a parliamentary majority. He is survived by his wife, Marie-Josephine Mara, and three daughters.

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Sheryl Huggins Salomon is senior editor-at-large of The Root and a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based editorial consultant. Follow her on Twitter.