The Jamaica Observer reported that Legal and Constitutional Affairs Minister Marlene Malahoo Forte said that plans to announce members of the Constitutional Reform Committee (CRC) by Prime Minister Andrew Holness had to be postponed, due to Opposition Leader Mark Golding’s delay in naming his party’s two members of the body.
Ms. Malahoo Forte insisted that the Jamaican government is ready and willing to have conversations about making Jamaica a republic, even if that is without the participation of the Opposition.
“It will take nine to 12 months, ambitiously, to pass the Bill, then amend the constitution to establish the Republic of Jamaica. Some of what the Opposition leader wishes to have discussed the committee was supposed to help us with. We are ready to go, and it is my hope that we will not be forced to go without the Opposition, but we are ready to go,” she stated.
Ms Malahoo Forte also said the government plans to have a referendum early next year regarding becoming a republic.
However, the Opposition’s Leader insists he simply wants transparency on key issues such as the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, which the government has said would see some changes in the future.
Mr. Golding also added he has concerns about the Privy Council remaining as Jamaican’s final court of appeal, despite wanting republic status.
“It is not a question that I am refusing to nominate members of the Opposition to sit on this committee, but I am asking, and I expect to receive the clarity, transparency, and disclosure that we want, and that the Jamaican people deserve, as to where the Government intends to go on these important matters,” Mr. Golding stated.
In June last year, Ms. Malahoo Forte said Jamaica will transition to a republic by 2025 – in time for the next general election.
”The goal is to ultimately produce a new Constitution of Jamaica, enacted by the Parliament of Jamaica, to inter alia, establish the Republic of Jamaica as a parliamentary republic, replacing the Constitutional Monarchy, and affirming our self-determination and cultural heritage,” Ms. Malahoo Forte said at the time.
There is a growing republican movement across the region, following Barbados’ highly publicised transition to a republic in November 2021 – which marked the Caribbean nation’s 55th year of independence.
Since then, several Caribbean islands have hinted they may cut ties with the British Monarch as their head of state.
If Jamaica does become the Caribbean’s next republic, the country will follow in the footsteps of other Caribbean countries which opted for a home-grown head of state.
Guyana became a republic in 1970, followed by Trinidad and Tobago in 1976 and Dominica in 1978.