Prime Minister Mia Mottley has assured Barbadians that much thought went into the decision to transition the country to a parliamentary republic.
Maintaining that it was not a “rush job”, Mottley said talks regarding the transition from a realm to a republic began more than two decades ago.
As lawmakers voted 25-0 to amend the Constitution of Barbados to bring the Republic into force, she said: “There can be no rush, therefore, about this Act. This Act has taken long in coming and if we go back, we agreed that there are aspects that are certainly worthy of consultation and that is the majority of the work that relates to the Constitution, we get that and we are committed to that.”
Described as a “simple but functional bill” the constitutional amendment would revoke the Barbados Order of 1966 as an Order in Council of Her Majesty while keeping complete the Barbados Constitution; make provision for a Barbadian to be a Head of state of Barbados; change the oath of allegiance from that to Her Majesty to now the state of Barbados and to ensure continuity in all of the other aspects of the functioning of the state of Barbados through offices, appointments and commissions.
Mottley said: “This has been a conversation that has been taking place since December 1998. The fact that I was part of the Cabinet that agreed to the establishment of this Commission explains why I have so much grey hair now because it has been a long journey. It has been a long journey.
“Indeed one of my greatest regrets is that while there are a few who are still with us the majority of persons who served on this Commission and, in fact the Cox Commission, before have gone to the Great Beyond.”
The change would bring to an end a British head of state of Barbados ever since English settlers landed here in 1625 and claimed the island for King James I.
The Prime Minister maintained that the time had come for the transition as Barbados needed to be in complete control of all of its affairs.
Mottley said there was no possibility Barbados would change its name.
She said: “What it does is allow us to close the circle with respect to independence and move to another state of our development thereby allowing Barbadians to say to the world that we have the confidence in ourselves to be completely responsible for who we are and what we do and what we say and all that surrounds itself with the nation of Barbados.
“This bill does nothing else but seek to make a Bajan the head of state of Barbados and is as simple as that because that is the lacuna that will take us from one point to another. By also revoking the Order in Council we make the clear statement that we want to be in control of our affairs as a Republic.
“Without that we will continue to always have doubts in the mind of our people as to whether we are truly independent and to whether we are truly in charge of our own destiny because if we have to send to [Buckingham] Palace in order to confer honours, or we have to send to the Palace in order to appoint an Ambassador to a non-Commonwealth country then we do not and cannot say that all power resides and locates within the nation state of Barbados and it is as simple as that.”
Prime Minister Mottley along with Opposition Leader Reverend Joseph Atherley will make a joint nomination for the election of a president of Barbados and a date will then be set for that election, she told the House.
Mottley said she expected that process to take place this month.
She said at the appropriate time Barbadians would also be notified as to when the new President would be sworn in.