Prime Minister David Thompson of Barbados died Saturday following a struggle with pancreatic cancer, the government announced. He was 48.
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.
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.
Thompson's deputy, Freundel Stuart, has been acting as prime minister.
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.