Barbados elects first-ever president to replace Queen Elizabeth as head of state

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Barbados elected its first president on Thursday, removing Queen Elizabeth as head of state after 55 years of independence from Britain.

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Dame Sandra Mason, the governor general of the Caribbean nation, which is set to become a republic, will be sworn in on November 30 as the country marks the 55th anniversary of independence from Britain.

Ms Mason, 72, was elected late on Wednesday after a joint session of the Assembly and the Senate voted by a two-thirds majority, with only one member refusing to vote.

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The historic election was hailed by Prime Minister Mia Motley as a “critical moment” for the nation.

“We’ve just picked a woman from among us who is distinctive and passionately Barbadian who doesn’t pretend to be anything else [and] reflects the values ​​of who we are,” Ms Motley said after the election.

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Ms Motley said the move was not meant to denounce her British past. “We look forward to continuing our relationship with the British monarch,” she said.

The government announced last year to “completely leave behind our colonial past” amid global debate over racial injustice and colonialism. The nation with less than 300,000 inhabitants maintained ties with the British monarchy and was recognized as an independent state under the Queen’s Commonwealth. But the people of the island nation have called for full sovereignty and indigenous leadership in recent years.

Ms Mason was the first woman to serve on the Barbados Court of Appeals and served as governor-general since 2018.

an editorial in barbados today Read: “Dame Sandra has been and continues to be an exemplary daughter of Clay.”

Wazim Moula of the Atlantic Council think tank told Reuters the move would benefit Barbados both at home and abroad. He said the small developing country would become a more legitimate player in global politics and could also act as a “uniting and nationalist move” that could benefit its current leadership at home.

“Other Caribbean leaders and their citizens will praise the move, but I don’t expect others to follow suit,” Movla said. “This move will always be considered only if it is in the best interest of each country.”

Barbados is not the first British colony in the Caribbean to remove the Queen and become a republic. Guyana became a republic in 1970, within four years of gaining independence, while Trinidad and Tobago followed in the footsteps in 1976. Dominica followed in 1978. The Barbados decision has sparked debate in Jamaica over whether the country should give up the monarchy.

Barbados took another step towards independence from Britain in 2003, when it replaced the Privy Council’s London-based Judicial Committee with the Caribbean Court of Justice based in the Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago as the final appeals court.

Credit: www.independent.co.uk / Barbados

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