Barbados has taken a significant leap in becoming a republic by electing the first-ever president of the nation. This is a groundbreaking decision since it will usher the country into a new governance system. Such a move is a clear message of their intention to break away from the British monarchy and become independent from the British Queen.
Dame Sandra Mason (72) was elected to the first Barbados president, and she will assume the leadership role of ruling the country as a republic. Last year, Barbados made its intentions clear of removing the Queen as head of state [Source]. According to the country’s Prime Minister Mia Mottley, it was time for them to leave their colonial past behind. The Caribbean island was pursuing its full sovereignty “by the time it celebrates its 55th anniversary of independence from the UK in November 2021”.
During an address in 2020, the PM alluded to their first premier Errol Barrow who despised “loitering on colonial premises.” Other states used this ideology under colonial rule, and the authorities would try to wash off the colonial scent on them. To accomplish this, countries usually rename themselves, propagate for the use of indigenous language, install local leadership, diminish any oppressive laws, change the national symbols or anthem, rename roads and famous buildings and design a national dressing style.
Hence, the Barbadians’ actions are justifiable in trying to taste freedom away from the colonial mindset. “Barbadians want a Barbadian head of state. This is the ultimate statement of confidence in who we are and what we are capable of achieving,” as noted by Mottley. After attaining its independence in 1966, the Queen kept on executing duties as its constitutional monarch.
Plans to become a fully independent republic were mentioned in 1998 after a Barbados constitutional review commission recommended a republican status. In 2015, PM Minister Freundel Stuart said, “we have to move from a monarchical system to a republican form of government in the very near future.”
The administration plan was doled out by Mottely when he said, “Hence, Bardos will take the next logical step toward full sovereignty and become a republic by the time we celebrate our 55th anniversary of independence”. A statement from Buckingham Palace commented on the removal of the Queen and described the move as a “matter for the government and people” of the country. After achieving independence, many Caribbean countries still maintained a formal link with the British monarchy, but Barbados had other ideas.
It successfully held an election session to elect the president, and A two-thirds vote joint session elected mason in the House of Assembly and Senate. Mason has been in the political arena for a long time and once served as a jurist. She was also the first woman who served on the Barbados Court of Appeals. In 2018, she became the governor-general of the land. She has a packed portfolio full of credentials to serve her country and sacrificed almost half of her life to work for the nation.
For PM Mottley, electing a president was “a seminal moment” in their nation. She explained that “We have just elected from among us a woman who is unique and passionate Barbadian, does not pretend to be anything else (and) reflects the values of who are.”
By deciding to become a republic, Barbadians did not condemn its British ties, and Mottely said, “We look forward to continuing the relationship with the British monarch.” Wazim Mowla of the Atlantic Council think-tank noted how a president would benefit the country’s internal affairs and international relations. She further explained that this decision would elevate Barbados’s status on a global scale and contribute to global politics. She described it as a “unifying and nationalistic move” necessary to develop the state.
Mowla added that “Other Caribbean leaders and their citizens will likely praise the move, but I don’t expect others to follow suit. This move will always be considered only if it is in the best interest of each country.”
Mason is expected to be sworn in on 30 November as the country celebrates its 55th anniversary of independence from Britain.