GG Sandra Mason to become first president
Barbados legislators on Wednesday elected 72-year-old Governor General Dame Sandra Prunella Mason to be the first-ever president, as the island moves to end its political relationship with Britain and adopt a republican status on November 30, its independence day.
All but one of the legislators who were present during the joint sitting of the two Houses of Parliament voted in support of Dame Sandra, who had been nominated by both Prime Minister Mia Mottley and Opposition Leader Bishop Joseph Atherley to replace Queen Elizabeth II as Barbados’ head of state.
Opposition Senator Caswell Franklyn earlier walked out of the joint sitting of Parliament, held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, after objecting to her nomination. His walkout came after the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Arthur Holder, read a letter from Mottley advising of the joint nomination.
“I have an objection, Mister Speaker,” he said, with the Speaker replying that “in accordance with the Constitution, I am therefore suspending this sitting”.
Both Houses of Parliament subsequently split to meet in separate rooms to cast secret ballots on the matter.
However, when voting began in the Senate, Franklyn raised yet another objection – this time about the ballots.
“This document has no validity. It comes from nowhere,” he said, with Senate President Reginald Farley responding, “I have deemed it to be valid.”
“You cannot deem something to be valid that has no constitutional or legislative basis, sir,” Franklyn said, adding, “You will not treat me this way today. I will not stand for it. You will have to put me out.”
The opposition legislator insisted that he be heard, and when the Senate president said his concern had been noted, Franklyn said his concern had not been addressed, repeating his position that “this document has no validity. It comes from nowhere”.
“Somebody make up this last night after I told people get things in place, ‘cause I going to object. So you rush and do this. I didn’t want to surprise anybody. I told everybody that this going to happen, to show you that the nonsense that we did in the House and the Senate last time when we passed the Constitution Amendment Act; there are no rules,” he added.
But the Senate president reminded legislators that the Parliament makes its own rules for voting.
Had there been no objection, Dame Sandra would have been declared the duly elected and first president of Barbados as dictated by Section 14 of the Constitution.
Dame Sandra was born on January 17, 1949, in East Point, St Philip, and was educated at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill campus in Barbados, and the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad, graduating with a Bachelor of Laws degree in 1973 and a certificate of legal education in 1975.
She became the first Barbadian female attorney to have graduated from the Hugh Wooding Law School and in 1998, she completed a course in judicial administration at RIPA, London, and a course in alternative dispute resolution at the University of Windsor, Canada, and Stitt Field Hendy Houston ADR Ltd in 2000.