Sunday, April 14, 2024

Former Jamaica PM Patterson calls for removal of Queen as head of state

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Kingston – Former Prime Minister PJ Patterson says the removal of  Britain’s Queen Elizabeth as the head of  state in Jamaica cannot wait on a full review of the constitution.

Barbados last month, replaced the Queen as head of state, electing 72-year-old Dame Sandra Mason as the island’s first local President. The country, which celebrated its 55th anniversary on November 30, has since adopted a republican form of government.

Patterson, 86, who served as the island’s prime minister from 1992 to 2006, has written to Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Leader of  the Opposition Mark Golding urging them to swiftly begin the process for removal of  the queen as Jamaica prepares to celebrate its 60th year of  independence.

Speaking on the Radio Jamaica’s Beyond the Headlines, over the last weekend, Patterson was asked whether it would not be better if the leaders used the opportunity to initiate comprehensive constitutional review, with the installation of a local head of state being part of that process.

He told radio listeners that such a review could take up to two years and Jamaica cannot afford to wait that long to end its relationship with the British monarchy:

“We have to have a head of state during that year of the jubilee that will reflect our own image and will enable every Jamaican to aspire to reaching positions in their native land. The constitutional recommendations have been far reaching ……we can’t afford to wait forever, 50 years is long enough,” said Patterson, the island’s longest serving prime minister, adding that it’s better to make some progress rather than delay in favour of  a comprehensive review.

“We don’t have to wait until that to move with what we are already agreed on . We have a habit of making perfection the enemy of the good – all that does is cause undue delay.”

Patterson said he also believes a referendum on the removal of  the Queen as head of state would be successful if  supported by both the government and opposition.

He said he would be happy if the legislative work to have that done could be completed before Independence Day next year.

“I’d be quite satisfied if by then it has been taken through all the stages of the legislature and the only thing that remains was a referendum. If both parties campaigned for a yes vote, I doubt that the prospect of those who vote no would be successful,” he added. (CMC)

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