Former Grenada PM George Brizan dies at 69

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By LINDA STRAKER, Associated Press

ST. GEORGE'S, Grenada (AP) — George Brizan, a former prime minister who was a founder of Grenada's ruling party, has died in his Caribbean homeland. He was 69.

Prime Minister Tillman Thomas said Brizan died Saturday at a hospital in the capital of St. George's after a long battle with diabetes.

Brizan became prime minister in February 1995 following the resignation of Prime Minister Nicholas Braithwaite. But his National Democratic Congress party was swept out of power four months later.

The party, which was elected on a no-tax platform in 1990, had angered voters by bringing back personal income taxes and imposing tight economic measures to offset huge foreign debts, cuts in U.S. aid and reduced agriculture income.

In 1999 elections, Brizan's party lost all of its parliamentary seats. Brizan, who was opposition leader at the time, said dissent within the party had hurt its image.

Disappointed by the defeat and suffering health problems, Brizan announced his retirement from politics, saying doctors had warned him that the hectic work of politics meant risking deterioration of his diabetes.

Brizan helped found at least three parties during more than a quarter century in politics, including the National Democratic Congress, which returned to power in 2008.

He also was a member of the radical New Jewel Movement in the mid-1970s, and returned to that party as a government education administrator before the party's government was toppled in a coup by Marxist hard-liners that triggered a U.S. invasion.

Brizan also worked as a professor of history and economics, author, trade union leader and consultant.

Thomas issued a statement describing Brizan as a "great contributor to our society" and said he occasionally called on Brizan for political counsel.

He is survived by his wife and four children.

(This version CORRECTS that Brizan's party lost all of its seats in 1999 national elections, rather than the 1995 elections.)

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