Bridgetown: Prime Minister David Thompson of Barbados died after struggling to beat pancreatic cancer most of the year. He was 48.
Thompson, who became prime minister of the Caribbean nation of 270,000 people in January 2008, died on Saturday at his private residence in St Philip, the government announced.
Thompson had been ill since March and travelled to New York several times for treatment. He declined to discuss his condition until last month, when his doctor revealed that Thompson was undergoing chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer.
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.
Freundel Stuart, who was attorney general and deputy prime minister, was sworn in as the new prime minister and said he did not anticipate any immediate changes to the Cabinet.
"I think we have to get through this very difficult period first," he said. "The harder side of politics will have to take a back seat for the time being."
Messages of condolence came from other leaders across the Caribbean.
"It is a loss to not only the people of Barbados, but also the people of the Caribbean," said Denzil Douglas, Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis.
Thompson, who was trained as a lawyer, led his Democratic Labor Party to victory in 2008 elections, defeating an effort by the Barbados Labor Party to win a fourth consecutive term in government.
He is survived by his wife, Marie-Josephine Mara, and their three daughters.