Jamaica Referendum Vote On Becoming Republic Will Be Held Separately From General Election Says Minister.

PHOTO: OKOYE HENRY Minister of Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Hon. Marlene Malahoo Forte (centre), addresses a constitutional reform town hall at the St. Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) in Santa Cruz on Wednesday (July 26). She is joined by members of the Constitutional Reform Committee (CRC) (from left) representative of the wider faith-based society, Dr. David Henry; Chair of the National Committee on Reparations, Lalieta Davis Mattis; Co-Chair of the Constitutional Reform Committee, Ambassador Rocky Meade; and Chairman of the Jamaica umbrella group of churches, Dr. Elaine McCarthy.
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By Editor-July 29th, 2023.

The Government has no intention of combining the referendum on Jamaica’s proposed transition to a Republic with either the upcoming Local Government or General Elections.

That’s what Minister of Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Hon. Marlene Malahoo Forte announced while addressing the constitutional reform town hall at the St. Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) in Santa Cruz on Wednesday,July 26th.

She emphasised the need to avoid any overlap with the elections given the competitive nature of the political landscape, apparently not wanting the issue of becoming a republic and ditching the British monarchy as head of state to become a partisan issue.

Instead, she said, the Referendum should have a fair and unbiased process that can stand on its own merit, preserving its integrity and to separate it from the general elections.

“The wisdom is that we wouldn’t want this Referendum, especially seeing it’s the first one that we’re going to hold in independent Jamaica, to be mixed up with [the elections],” Mrs. Malahoo Forte said.

“The current Constitution contemplated all of this and it’s quite permissible to have the Referendum in another Parliament. So, we can pass the law in this Parliament and carry the Referendum over to the next Parliament,” she pointed out.

Mrs. Malahoo Forte noted that this approach also provides ample time for the constitutional reform and public education, allowing citizens to make informed decisions during the Referendum.

While the Government is working to introduce the Bill in the current Parliament, the Minister pointed out that the timeline depends on the completion of the consultations and public education effort.

She said it is essential to avoid rushing the process to ensure that citizens are well-informed about the proposed constitutional changes.

“It’s going to require a lot of maturity and a mature conversation between the ruling Jamaica Labour Party and the Opposition’s People’s National Party. It would be a travesty if we went to the people competing whilst we are on the issue of abolishing King Charles the Third as our Head of State,” Mrs. Malahoo Forte said.

Along with abolishing the constitutional monarchy and the establishment of the office of the president, phase one of the constitutional reform process aims to address the extension of the life of Parliament and the qualification criteria for parliamentary members.

Source: Jamaica Government Press Release.
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