As Barbados prepares to transition to a republic in a few weeks, Dame Sandra Mason has been announced as the island’s first President-elect.
This announcement came today from Speaker of the House of Assembly, Arthur Holder, as he read the Instrument of Election of President, at a joint meeting of both Houses of Parliament at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
The joint meeting was earlier suspended, because of an objection, and the members reconvened in their respective House, where they voted for Dame Sandra.
In congratulating Dame Sandra, who received the necessary two-thirds majority vote in the Houses of Parliament, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley said the election of a President “is a seminal moment” in the country’s journey.
Ms. Mottley continued: “We look forward, therefore, to December 1, 2021. But we do so confident that we have just elected from among us a woman who is uniquely and passionately Barbadian; does not pretend to be anything else; reflects the values of who we are; [and] has been able, in spite of her achievement of many firsts, to maintain a humility that is so admired by our people.
“Barbadians do not like boastful people, that is not our nature. But we like confident people, …proud people, …industrious people, …people who fight for the underdog, who believe in social justice, who believe in fairness; that is who we are. I can think, therefore, of no better person at this juncture of our nation who can reflect …those values, and who also, by dint of their life, has shown you that it is not simply about fighting for rights, which is absolutely essential in a post-colonial society, but …recognising the responsibilities that must go hand in hand with the gift of those rights.”
Ms. Mottley said the transition to a republic was also about positioning the springboard that was necessary to undertake the most difficult mission confronting this independent nation. She stressed that Government had not come to this moment lightly, as she stated that it was time to “claim our full destiny”.
The Prime Minister told the Chamber: “This is really not about November 30, 2021; this is about December 1, 2021. This is about being able to use this as the springboard that we as a nation need in order to confront a completely different reality.”
She noted that the decision to move towards republic status was not meant to be a statement of condemnation of anyone. In fact, she added: “We look forward to continuing the relationship with the British monarch….
“The time has come for us to express the full confidence in ourselves as a people, and to believe that it is possible for one born of this nation to sign off finally and completely.”
Leader of the Opposition, Bishop Joseph Atherley, congratulated Governor General Dame Sandra on becoming President-elect.
Bishop Atherley continued: “By this vote, Mr. Speaker, we have elevated to the highest office in the land, in this new context, one we consider to be worthy of this signal honour; one who has achieved excellence in her public and professional life; one who has worn all the trappings of her current office with dignity, polished bearing and the requisite mix of pride and humility.
“… One who, by manner of service and appreciation of office, constitutes again both symbolically and substantively, a unifying force in the practice of our political and governance model.”