Come Independence Day, November 30, Barbados’ first non-executive president will be sworn in, after being elected by the electoral college of both Houses of Parliament as the nation becomes a republic.
Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, made this announcement during the annual commemoration ceremony held to mark the Day of National Significance on the anniversary of the 1937 riots in Jubilee Gardens yesterday.
She told the gathering that included her Cabinet colleagues, diplomats and Pan Africanists, that Cabinet had accepted the recommendations of the Forde Commission but had made minor modifications to the document.
The Prime Minister said the President will serve a four-year term in the first instance and can be appointed for a second term, and noted that amendments would be made to the constitution to facilitate the transition.
“We will make amendments to facilitate that transition to a new president to be sworn in on that day of the November 30, this year, and in that so doing, we start from December 1, the journey of the settlement of the new constitution of Barbados which will be the subject of extensive consultation and communication with the people of this nation,” Ms. Mottley disclosed.
The Prime Minister said over the next four months, officials will start and complete discussions to “settle among ourselves” the trajectory and the spirit in which Barbadians will embrace the republic and the new constitution.
Ms. Mottley contended: “Who are we? What do we stand for and that conversation will be led by the Republic Transition Advisory Committee along with other members of civil society and the Government. There must be a Charter of Barbados that is established and brought to our Parliament before November 30 such that we enter the morning of November 30, committed to the Charter of Barbados that reflects the essence of who we are and what we stand for.”
The Prime Minister warned that a nation that could not define who it was, what its people stood for, what they had done or who they were, would “never be able to secure its way on the journey”.
Ms. Mottley added: “Across all boundaries, sectors, classes, ages and races in this society, we must in the next few months, settle on those two or three pages that settle for us and the world, what matters to us and what we are prepared to fight for as a people.”
She explained: “And that is the bridge to the constitutional debate then that allows us to move from a constitution that celebrates the role of Government, to a new constitution that speaks to the role of governance and sets out with clarity, the roles, rights and responsibilities of each and every Bajan. The Charter, however, represents the pledge to each other…the pledge to you…your pledge to me…your pledge to him or her, the collective pledge of what we stand for.”
Ms. Mottley also revealed that Attorney General, Dale Marshall, would embark on the task of settling the consultations and drafting of the new constitution in the spirit of the new Charter.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Charter is non-justiciable, not because we don’t like money, but because we are realistic about what we can and cannot afford as a small modern independent nation. Not everything is measured in terms of money, but everything must be measured in terms of standards, who we are and what we must fight for,” the Prime Minister pointed out.
Ms. Mottley added that she looked forward to the robust debate by Barbadians and quipped: “On this journey that we have, I can’t promise you the promised land, but I know it is there. I know, if we don’t keep on this journey, those of us who must get there will never get there. I know that we have a responsibility to build on the past”.