Former Democratic Labour Party (DLP) member and general election candidate, Taan Abed, has come out strongly against Barbados becoming a republic without the Government consulting the people through a referendum.
Abed issued a caution to Barbadians today following a suggestion by embattled Speaker of the House of Assembly, Michael Carrington, that there was no need for a referendum on the issue.
The outspoken political activist said Carrington, in light of his recent legal troubles, should tread carefully when speaking on any serious political issue.
Carrington’s comments followed Prime Minister Freundel Stuart’s announcement last month that he hopes to complete the decolonization process which began with Independence from Britain in 1966 by making Barbados a republic by next year.
Condemning any attempt to make the switch without consulting the electorate, Abed noted: “Canada has a population of 27 million and still has a monarchical form of government. Australia also has a population which runs into the millions and still has a monarchical form of government.
Abed expressed fears there may be some fall-out for tourism if Barbados severs ties with the British monarchy by becoming a republic since Britain supplies the bulk of visitors to the island.
He added: “Barbados depends on Britain for most of its visitors during our winter tourist season . . . . Barbados has a population of a mere quarter million people, yet our political directorate thinks that it should sever ties with the monarchy.
“What happens if Barbados faces hostilities from another sovereign state? Can we call on Britain for military assistance in our time of trouble?” he asked.
Abed, who is of Syrian extraction, contended that switching to republican status without consulting the people would be a display of undemocratic behaviour for which some Middle Eastern governments were known.
“I have been living in Barbados for the past 40 years and respect Barbados’ democratic traditions. My children were born in Barbados and I want to leave a country in which they can pursue their legitimate pursuits in peace and quiet. They received their education at some of the best schools in this country and I have a sense of commitment to this country,” Abed said.
He went on: “Generally, politicians are shortsighted and only care about the next general election and their pension rights. I would advise all Barbadians to think clearly before they are drawn into a republican form of government.”