Dame Sandra Mason has been nominated to be the first President as Barbados moves to become a republic by November 30.
In addition, Barbadians have been given the assurance that there will be no change to the country’s name, flag, pledge or the name of Independence Day.
Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley outlined this and the process to be followed over the coming months as Barbados moves to a republic status, during an address to the nation this afternoon.
“There is no change to the flag. There is no change to the name of Independence Day; there is no change to the name of Barbados. Barbados is Barbados. We’re not the Commonwealth of Barbados; we’re not the Republic of Barbados; Barbados is Barbados. We are also not changing our pledge,” the Prime Minister stated.
Ms. Mottley explained that between now and November, it was Government’s intention to put a Bajan as the country’s head of state, and Dame Sandra was the person nominated, and has consented to the nomination.
She said Dame Sandra’s nomination would now be subject to the vote of Members of Parliament in the House of Assembly and the Senate.
The Prime Minister further outlined that Government was also seeking to determine through a Charter what were the promises and pledges that would be made to each other.
“We feel that if we are going to have a new Constitution eventually that is going to reflect who we are in the third decade of the 21st century, rather than who we are in the middle of the 20th century, that that should be first and foremost guided by the kind of person that we want to be and the kind of people. Not legal language; not justiciable language, but a Charter, a set of pledges and promises as Bajans to each other, no more than two or three pages…,” Ms. Mottley explained.
She added that she has asked the Republican Status Transition Advisory Committee to start consultations with people about the kind of promises and pledges they wanted to make to each other. That process would be led by Senator Reverend John Rogers and Chereda Grannum, two members of the Republican Status Transition Advisory Committee. It is expected to be completed before November 30, and reflected through resolutions in both Houses of Parliament.
“And it is the intention that subject to the people and Parliament agreeing to it that on the 30th of November, Independence Day…that there will then be the opportunity for the President of the country to be able to recite that Charter, as the embodiment of the aspirations of Barbadian people,” Ms. Mottley stated.
The third aspect of the process relates to discussions on a new Constitution for Barbados, which are expected to get under way in January 2022.
Prime Minister Mottley explained that Government intended to break down the Constitution “chapter by chapter” starting with the preamble and the fundamental rights, freedoms and responsibilities in January, before moving on to other sections.
“We then move on through chapter by chapter by chapter, so that the process actually takes 12 to 15 months for us to have the kind of detailed conversations, supported by a secretariat that is multi-faceted,” Ms. Mottley said.
She disclosed that retired Justice Sherman Moore was assisting with the drafting of legislation and would be on the secretariat to guide the process. That secretariat will also include one of the leading academics at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Cynthia Barrow-Giles, and other professionals.
The Prime Minister noted that Government had the report on the Thorne Commission on local government, and was awaiting the Cheltenham Commission on Parliamentary Reform, which should be ready by the middle of next year. That, she explained, was a multi-faceted and multi-party Committee Commission that included representatives from the Democratic Labour Party and the Opposition.
Ms. Mottley said Government was “simply trying to … close the discussion on Independence”.
“We’re not trying to take away Mr. Barrow’s legacy as some people fear. Far from that, we’re trying to complete his legacy. We are trying to finish what he would have wanted to finish if circumstances allowed him in 1966,” she assured.