Governor-General Dame Sandra Mason was nominated to be the first President of Barbados

By Rumi Samuel Published on August 24, 2021
Governor-General Dame Sandra Mason was nominated to be the first President of Barbados

Governor-General Dame Sandra Mason has been nominated to be the first President as Barbados moves to become a republic by November 30.

Furthermore, Barbadians have been assured that no changes be made to the country's name, flag, pledge, or the name of Independence Day. 

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley stated this in a speech to the country on Saturday. “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.”

Mottley explained that the Government intended to put a Bajan as the country’s head of state between now and November. 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 the Government was also seeking to determine through a Charter the promises and pledges that would make 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….”

The Prime Minister added that she had asked the Republican Status Transition Advisory Committee to start consultations with people about promises and pledges they wanted to make to each other.  

That process would be led by Senator Reverend John Rogers and Chereda Grannum, two Republican Status Transition Advisory Committee members.  It is expected to be completed before November 30 and reflected through resolutions in both Houses of Parliament.

“And it is the intention that subjects 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,” Mottley stated.

The third aspect of the process relates to discussions on a new Constitution for Barbados, which is expected to get underway 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 takes 12 to 15 months for us to have the kind of detailed conversations, supported by a secretariat that is multi-faceted,” she said.

The Prime Minister disclosed that retired Justice Sherman Moore was assisting with drafting 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 stated that the government had received the Thorne Commission report on local governance and was looking forward to the Cheltenham Commission on Parliamentary Reform, which should be completed by the middle of next year. 

That was a multifaceted and multi-party Committee Commission, she continued, with representatives from the Democratic Labour Party and the Opposition.

“We’re not trying to take away 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,” Mottleyassured.

She said Government was “simply trying to…close the discussion on Independence.”

Rumi Samuel

Rumi Samuel

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