George Mallet, a stalwart in St. Lucian politics and the Caribbean island’s former governor general, died Wednesday after a long battle with cancer. He was 87.
Mallet entered St. Lucia’s Parliament in a 1958 byelection as the representative of central Castries electoral district. He held the seat for 38 years until 1996, when he became governor general and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.
Mallet emerged as a political leader in the late 1950s, when St. Lucians began pressing for independence from the United Kingdom, which was shedding responsibility for its Caribbean colonies.
In 1964, Mallet and John Compton forged an alliance of two opposition parties that resulted in the creation of the United Workers Party, which has dominated St. Lucian politics.
Mallet was a long-serving deputy to Compton, who was the first prime minister upon independence in 1979. He also served as minister of tourism, trade and industry for more than 30 years.
Mallet was known in St. Lucia for his tenacity. Between 1958 and 1961, he was the only opposition member in the 10-member legislature of this verdant, mountainous island.
A statement from the office of Prime Minister Stephenson King described Mallet as one of St. Lucia’s “most noted political giants.”
“Sir George was certainly a key figure who can be accredited with a leading role in St. Lucia’s emergence from the post-colonial era to a modern independent state”, the Wednesday statement said.
Mallet is survived by two adult children. His wife, Beryl, died in 2003.
Funeral arrangements were pending.
By Guy Ellis Copyright © 2010 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.