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Barbados to become a Republic by November 30, 2021

Honourable Mia Amor Mottley, QC, MP

Day of National Significance

Jubilee Gardens

July 26, 2021

There is a journey that we are on. We are not yet where we want to be, but we need to stay focused on this journey.

And we need to be able to reach out to Barbadians, whether the youngsters on the side here, whether the people outside of this square are standing up listening, or whether those who are listening through the technology that is now here. We have to be our brother’s keeper and our sister’s keeper. It is not just an idle comment. And Bishop Atherley, it’s not just to be run from the pulpits of the nation. We have to be our brothers and sisters keeper.

And I therefore come this afternoon to promise a few things.

That on the 30th of November of this year, that on the 30th of November of this year, our great nation, which we love, shall become a Parliamentary Republic.

That the Cabinet has accepted the recommendations of the Forde Commission with minor modification; that our Parliamentary Republic shall have a non-executive President that shall be elected by the Electoral College of both Houses of Parliament, and that that President shall be entitled to serve initially for a period of four years and thereafter can be reappointed for another term.

That we will make amendments to facilitate that transition to a new President to be sworn-in on that day of the 30th of November of this year.

That in so doing, that we start from the 1st of December, the journey of the settlement of the new Constitution of Barbados, which will be the subject of extensive consultation and communication with the people of this nation.

But to get to that point, over the course of the next four months, we will start and complete the discussion to settle among ourselves – what is that trajectory? What is the spirit with which we want to embrace both the Republic and the new Constitution? Who are we? What do we stand for? And that conversation will be led by the Republic Transition Advisory Committee along with other members of civil society and the government. Because there must be a Charter of Barbados that is established and brought to our Parliament before the 30th of November such that we enter the morning of the 30th of November committed to the Charter of Barbados, that reflects the essence of who we are and what we stand for.

And for those who ask, “what’s all this?” A nation that cannot define who it is or what we have done and what we stand for and who we are as a people, will never be able to secure its way on the journey. It will never be able to do so.

And therefore, across all boundaries and sectors and classes and ages and races in this society, we must in the next few months settle on those two or three pages that settle for us and the world, what matters to us and what we are prepared to fight for as a people.

And that is the bridge to the constitutional debate then, that allows us to move from a constitution that celebrates the role of government to a new constitution that speaks to the role of governance and that sets out with clarity, the roles, rights and responsibilities of each and every Bajan.

The Charter, however, represents the pledge to each other. The pledge to you. Your pledge to me. The pledge to him. The pledge to her. The collective pledge of what we stand for and what we will fight for.

I have every confidence that once that is done, the Attorney-General, as he embarks on the task of settling the consultations on the drafting of the new constitution, that it will be done as a result of the spirit of the Charter. And for the avoidance of doubt, the Charter is nonjusticiable not because we don’t like money, but because we are realistic as to what we can and cannot afford as a small, modern, independent nation. And not everything is measured in terms of money, but everything must be measured in terms of standards and who we are and what we must fight for.

I look forward, therefore, to that process starting very shortly and I look forward to the rambunctious engagement by Barbadians in that debate.

And why do I say rambunctious?

Because we live in a time, equally, where the isms and the schisms, and the casms – all use to separate us and divide us. And as I look across this nation, I ask myself, why have we come to government at this most difficult and challenging time? What is it that we got to do?

And in a very real way, we have now to show why 1937 should never have happened. We have to show why it is that those who have power must respond to the needs and the circumstances of the present and not just the past. Why we must be patient in building the future, why the Constitution must not only speak about rights but responsibilities, why it is inappropriate for us to have a passive approach to nation building that is limited by the rights that we have – constrained only by the rights of others, and it stops there – Boom! When in truth and in fact, it is not just about not affecting the rights of others, it is about what is it that you must do positively to build out this nation and to build the better life for each and every one of us in this nation.

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