Tue | Jan 25, 2022

PM Gonsalves wants other CARICOM countries to attain republican status

Published:Wednesday | December 1, 2021 | 12:10 AM


Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves says he looks forward to the day when other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries will follow Barbados, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and Dominica, and adopt a republic form of government.

In a lengthy letter congratulating Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley on her island becoming the fourth CARICOM state to replace Britain’s Queen Elizabeth as head of state on Tuesday, Gonsalves said other CARICOM countries, namely the French-speaking Haiti and the Dutch-speaking Suriname have also adopted a republican form of government, with both countries having executive presidents.

“Guyana and Dominica have been republics since independence, respectively, in 1966 and 1977, although Guyana has an executive presidency and Dominica, a non-executive president. Trinidad and Tobago, which became independent in August 1962 with a constitutional monarchial system, with a largely ceremonial governor general, altered its constitution in 1976 to a republican one, with a non-executive president,” he said.

Gonsalves said that prior to Mottley’s successful leadership on this issue, only Dr Eric Williams, “the political titan of Trinidad and Tobago”, was able to lead triumphantly on republicanism by way of an alteration to an existing post-independence constitution.

“So, Barbados is not doing anything novel. But what it is doing is of utmost significance, for the better, for its people and our Caribbean civilisation. It is my hope that, in my lifetime, all or most of the independent countries of CARICOM would move from a monarchial system to a republican one.

“I earnestly look forward to such a change in Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Jamaica, St Kitts-Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines. These eight CARICOM member states, plus six other countries, are those outside of the United Kingdom with the British monarch as their head of state: Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu. “

Gonsalves said that in the Caribbean as a whole, there are the five British colonies or overseas territories, namely, Anguilla, Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, Montserrat, and Turks and Caicos Islands. Bermuda, located in the Atlantic, but with Caribbean connections, is also under British suzerainty.

“The wider Caribbean is also awash with colonial territories or departments of colonial powers of the United States of America, France, and Holland,” he wrote, adding “hopefully, too, all these colonial territories will push for independence within the comity of nations globally”.