Roosevelt Skerrit (born 8
June 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
Skerrit attended the Portsmouth Secondary School before
transferring to the Dominica
, 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
While at New Mexico State University he was also
president of the Dominica Students Association. He was initially a
member of the youth arm of the Dominica Freedom Party
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
He initially served as Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs, and
upon the death of Roosevelt
he 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
On the death of Pierre
on 6 January 2004 he was nominated to be the country's
prime minister and was sworn on 8 January, aged 31. After becoming
prime minister, he was elected as the political leader
of the Dominica Labour
2004 Skerrit established diplomatic relations with the People's
Republic of China, severing relations with the Republic of
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. The DLP
defeated the Edison James
who won 8 seats and 44% of the popular vote. The
opposition sought to criticize his age and relative inexperience,
as well as pointing to the country's generally poor economic
performance since the 2000 elections. 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.
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
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. Skerrit's administration agreed to join the
Alternative for the Americas
. In addition, Skerrit announced
that his government had agreed to the construction of a
$80,000,000USD refinery on the island.
The proposed refinery has prompted criticism from some
environmentalist groups that an oil refinery is inconsistent with
the island's image as an eco-tourist destination.
A Caribbean Development Research Services Inc (CADRES) poll
conducted between February 2 and 5 2007 found that Prime Minister
Skerrit was the most popular leader in the country with 58% of
respondents favouring his leadership.
In a cabinet reshuffle announced on 16 October 2007, Skerrit
assumed the portfolios of Foreign Affairs and Social Security,
while remaining in charge of Finance; he gave up the portfolios of
National Security and Economic Planning, which he had previously
held. He subsequently relinquished the Foreign Affairs portfolio on
November 18, 2008, while again taking over the National Security
- "2005 Candidates", Dominicaelections.com, May
- "The Summer of Discontent", The Dominican, July
- "Education minister named new Dominica leader",
CNN, January 8, 2004.
- "Prime Minister Skerrit Elected as Labour Party
Leader", The Dominican, March 2, 2004.
- "Country profile: Dominica", BBC, December 9,
- "Dominica Election 2005 Official Results",
Dominica Elections, May 5, 2005.
- 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)
- "Dominica re-elects prime minister", Caribbean Net
News, May 9, 2005.
- "Venezuela's Chavez opens fuel storage facility in
Dominica", Jamaica Gleaner, February 18, 2007.
- "ALBA Radiates Light to the Caribbean", Prensa
Latina, February 19, 2007.
- "Dominica's prime minister leads popularity poll",
Caribbean Net News, March 30, 2007.
- "New Cabinet in Dominica", Caribbean Broadcasting
Corporation, October 16, 2007.
- "Dominica PM Makes Cabinet Changes",
Hardbeatnews.com, October 17, 2007.
- "Dominica PM fires minister, shuffles Cabinet",
Caribbean360.com, November 19, 2008.