Sun | Oct 1, 2023

Road to republic status is different among Caribbean countries

Published:Thursday | September 29, 2022 | 12:07 AM


I am writing this letter with reference to ‘Be vigilant of oppressive political structures’, which was published in The Gleaner on September 27.

Not every Commonwealth Caribbean country’s constitution has the same provisions. [Appointing a ] ceremonial president requires a simple legislative majority because provision had been made for such in the constitution of some countries. Barbados, Belize, and Guyana were not required to amend their constitutions in order to gain the status of republic. So, they had parliamentary polls as they were not required to have referendums.

This is because their constitutions had the provisions in them, or based on their constitutions, they could amend them to secure a simple legislative majority to acquire a ceremonial president.

Dominica gained independence-republic on the same day. She is the only country in the Commonwealth to gain both on the same day.

This is not provided for in the Constitution of Jamaica. The Constitution of Jamaica requires constitutional amendment and constitutional referendum in order to gain the status of republic.

So, registered voters are required to vote on proposed amendments (bills) in a referendum. For each bill to succeed, it must receive a two-thirds majority of the total amount of votes that is in favour of the bill.

In 2016, the year of review, the government of St Lucia sought and succeeded in obtaining an order from the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal correcting a draftsman’s error in the constitution to enable the amendment to replace the JCPC with CCJ without the need for a referendum on the issue.

On September 19, The Gleaner published an article about St Lucia. Stated in the article: “In April of this year, we signalled to the government of the United Kingdom our intention to terminate appeals to the Privy Council. This is a necessary step by virtue of Section 41 of our Constitution.”