Prime Minister Mottley said that the Government will use suggestions from the team as well as recommendations from the previous Constitutional Review Commission which was led by Sir Henry Forde.
Mottley, who was speaking to ABC Australia’s chief foreign correspondent Philip Williams during a broadcast interview, said: “We have to go through a whole transition team and settle on the arrangement. Fortunately, a lot of that work was done many years ago and the Constitutional Review Commission had submitted to the then Government proposals for how the President should be elected. We are going to dust that off.”
She added: “In the context of the transition team that will be appointed we will take recommendations as to how best we go, whether we accept those recommendations from Sir Henry Forde when we had the Constitutional Review Commission in the 1990s or whether we modify it.”
According to the Mottley, the Prime Minister will remain Head of Government functioning with a President as Head of State
“The President will have a little more than ceremonial functions but akin more to what we have now. The matters relating to certain appeals and things like the chairman of the Privy Council in terms of the exercise and prerogative of mercy. There are certain things that will be vested in the President as they are in the Governor General. We will work out those transitional arrangements,” she said.
When asked if she would want to become the island’s first President the PM said she preferred to be on the ground.
“I have no interest in being President, Governor General, judge, Chief Justice, any of those things that take away your ability to move easily and walk and talk to people. I am one of those who like to move around with the people.”
The country’s first female leader said that two decades ago it was agreed that the bold step should be taken.
“Twenty years ago we committed to a referendum and since then every Government, the major political parties have agreed that this is where the country must go. It is our judgement and we certainly campaigned on it in our manifesto that while we committed to referendum on other issues we didn’t on this one. We made it clear that we believe this is where the country must go.”
She added: “There was a group of eminent Barbadians who would have, before the last election, spoken to the former Prime Minister, spoke to myself as Leader of the Opposition, extracted commitments from both major political parties and we are at this stage now where we are simply going to, as Nike says, just do it, make it happen.”
Mottley said that while Barbados accepts its heritage, there is a need now more than ever for Barbadians to affirm who they are.
“We respect our heritage but we affirm who we are as a people today. And who we are as a people today are proud Barbadians who believe that we are not better than anyone else but we are as good as anyone else. To that extent we have to allow our people to have the confidence that they can be global citizens with Barbadian traditions and govern their affairs. The truth is, it’s important to us that we give confidence to our young people.” The island’s eighth Prime Minister confirmed the Government had not yet spoken directly with Buckingham Palace but said she believed the British people would support Barbados, likening the two countries.
“It’s not a divisive decision, it’s not a decision that is reflective of any break with the monarchy, or any disrespect, in fact it’s quite the opposite. We have an excellent relationship with the United Kingdom, with the royal family, and we believe that the time has come to boost the confidence of our people.
She added: “I can’t imagine that countries [like] the United Kingdom would want anything other than a British head of state. I can’t imagine the United States of America similarly, so we just see this as a natural step.”
Barbados is not the first former British colony in the Caribbean to become a republic. Guyana, Dominica and Trinidad and Tobago all did so in the 1970s.
All three remained within the Commonwealth. (IMC)
- Countries: Barbados