Caribbean news. Freundel Stuart, the prime minister of Barbados, tells colleagues that the island nation will have its own head of state by 50th anniversary of independence in 2016.
It has long been independent from Britain, but the eastern Caribbean island of Barbados looks set to sever links with the Queen, drawing up plans to replace her as head of state with a president. Freundel Stuart, the prime minister, told supporters of the ruling Democratic Labour party (DLP) that the island was functioning as a republic, according to the Jamaica Observer.
“We respect (the Queen) very highly as head of the Commonwealth and accept that she and all of her successors will continue to be at the apex of our political understanding. But, in terms of Barbados’s constitutional status, we have to move from a monarchical system to a republican form of government in the very near future,” Stuart said. George Pilgrim, general secretary of the DLP, confirmed the development and said the change was expected to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Barbados’s independence in 2016.
A draft bill will have to be put before parliament. Pilgrim said: “We don’t expect any opposition coming from the opposition party. “This will move the country through to the next major step in the process of nationhood.” He added that Barbados would remain part of the Commonwealth, of which the Queen is head, thus retaining some links with the crown.
It is not the first time Barbados has considered becoming a republic. In 2005, Owen Arthur, then prime minister, outlined his proposals for dropping the Queen in favour of a locally elected president, but the process was not completed. The same year, the Caribbean court of justice became Barbados’s final court of appeal, instead of the London-based privy council, which has long served as the highest court of appeal for many former British colonies.
The island became independent from Britain in 1966. The Queen’s Royal style and title in Barbados is Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Barbados and of Her other Realms and territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth. She is represented through the largely ceremonial role of the governor general.
The monarch has made five official visits to the island, including in 1977 when she left by Concorde on her first supersonic flight. In 1989, she visited to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the Barbados parliament. A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: “It is a matter for the government and people of Barbados.” Downing Street appeared to be unaware of the decision, which was announced on Sunday night.
A spokesman for David Cameron, the prime minister, said: “I expect the approach will be consistent with self-determination, decisions around this being a matter for the people involved.” Portia Simpson Miller, prime minister of Jamaica, pledged in 2012 to replace the Queen as head of state. The Queen is sovereign of 15 Commonwealth realms in addition to the UK. Article courtesy www.theguardian.com