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PM, Atherley agree on Dame Sandra’s nomination

PM, Atherley agree on Dame Sandra’s nomination
Prime Minister Mia Mottley. (FILE)

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Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley and Opposition Leader Bishop Joseph Atherley have jointly agreed that Dame Sandra Mason should be nominated to become Barbados’ first President.

Mottley made the revelation in the House of Assembly yesterday after the first reading of the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2021.

She also reiterated that her administration was not engaging in a rush job by pushing through legislation that would soon see a Barbadian become the country’s head of state.

The Prime Minister said the eventual transition to a republic would not only add to the legacy of the Father of Independence, former Prime Minister Errol Walton Barrow, but would also allow young Barbadians to aspire to reach the position as well.

She added that yesterday’s tabling of the bill was a simple matter in the process of starting the proposed nomination of Governor General Dame Sandra to become the first non-executive President of Barbados, but that as promised, consultation on the review of the Constitution would still take place, starting in January.

By a vote of 25-0 Parliament agreed to amend the Constitution (Amendment) Bill to bring the Republic into force by November 30.

“Barbados naming a head of state will take us to where we want to be. The name of Barbados won’t change. We don’t need to do that to advance. We are not changing the date of Independence, so these are simple things we believe are necessary at this point,” Mottley said about yesterday’s process in the Lower House.

“There can be no rush about this act. There is nothing being done behind the backs of anyone. This is simply about making a Bajan the head of state. We will ensure to provide for continuity.”

She said that the bill would ensure that any Barbadian by birth or descent could be elevated to the position of President.

She added that if any former parliamentarians were to be named as head of state, there would have to be a 12-month timeline after that person stopped being an MP.

The Prime Minister told the House she had spoken to Atherley so there could be a joint nomination of Dame Sandra since, in her mind, the elevation of a Barbadian to become the first local head of state was a process that should always be above partisan political consideration.

She said new oaths would have to be taken by the President, High Court judges, Director of Public Prosecutions and those appointed to the Caribbean Court of Justice.

The country’s new charter should also be in place to be read by the new President on November 30, Independence Day. “We are not seeking to rewrite history. We are adding to it,” Mottley said.

The Prime Minister added that the process should be done by the end of next month, and it would allow  separation from the Queen of England in a dignified manner, though Barbados was effectively already in control of its own destiny as an independent nation. (BA)