A motion was tabled Tuesday in the House of Representatives for Jamaica to become a republic. That would effectively see to the removal of the British Monarch as the country’s head of state.
The motion, which was tabled by Opposition MP Mikael Phillips, calls for the process to be completed before Jamaica celebrates its 60th anniversary as an independent nation in August 2022.
The motion states that Jamaica over the years has been considering whether to abandon the monarchy, but no action has been taken.
Mr. Phillips has recommended that a committee be established to undertake a six-month public education programme on Jamaica becoming a republic, “and thereafter hold a national referendum to approve the necessary constitutional changes.”
He’s also recommending that the referendum be held on the same date as the next Local Government Election, now scheduled to be held by February 2022.
In September Barbados announced it plans to become a republic by November next year.
Jamaica gained political Independence in 1962, four years before Barbados.
At Independence, Jamaica and all other former British West Indian colonies retained most elements of the constitutional system they were accustomed to, including, notably, retaining the Monarch as Head of State, represented locally by a Governor-General.
There have been many calls for substantial constitutional reforms in Jamaica over succeeding decades, with the last major consideration of the matter taking place in the early 1990s. The parliamentary debate arising from those deliberations got underway on October 24, 1995.
That process did not far-reaching change, however, with the only significant development emerging from the initial deliberations coming in 2011; the insertion of a Charter of Rights and Fundamental Freedoms as the new Chapter 3 of the Jamaican Constitution.
In the meantime, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, and Dominica have all become republics since attaining Independence.