The Bahamas should remove the queen as its head of state and move towards becoming a republic, Minister of Transport and Local Government Renward Wells said yesterday.
“I happen to be a republican, meaning I believe that The Bahamas should move away from the queen as our head of state and all of those trappings,” Wells told The Nassau Guardian.
“I happen to be a minority thinker in The Bahamas in that regard.”
Wells said his first contribution in the House of Assembly was a speech which noted the need to remove Queen Elizabeth II as The Bahamas’ head of state.
“I have always said that,” he said.
“I mean, people know I don’t swear allegiance, I affirm. Folks believe that it is a religious issue for me but it is not religious.
“The only time I would swear allegiance is directly to the Bahamian people or to the God I serve, to the God I serve first and then to the Bahamian people. That is why I affirm my allegiance to her and not swear, I have always done that and everybody knows that.”
Asked if he believes The Bahamas should abolish the monarchy, Wells said, “I have held that view since entering politics in 2009. We should have a president who is representative of the Bahamian people who comes from the people. We should be a republic.”
In 2012, then Prime Minister Perry Christie formed a constitutional commission, headed by former Attorney General Sean McWeeney, which examined, among other issues, whether The Bahamas should “evolve from a constitutional monarchy into a republic within the Commonwealth of Nations”.
In its report, which was released in July 2013, the commission wrote, “The traditional argument for the evolution to republican status is that it is a natural step towards completing the ‘circle of independence’ and attaining full sovereignty, and that the retention of the British monarch is an historical anachronism, a hangover from the colonial era that formally ended in The Bahamas 40 years ago.”
It noted that removing the queen as head of state and transitioning to a republic would involve “considerable” financial, administrative, social and cultural costs for The Bahamas because royal insignia on government buildings would have to be removed and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force and Royal Bahamas Police Force would have to undergo a rebranding.
The commission did not recommend removing the queen or her representative, the governor general, as head of state.
Earlier this month, Attorney General Carl Bethel said the Minnis administration does not plan to abolish the monarchy.
“There are far too many Bahamians who have an emotional attachment to that,” he said.
Education: Goldsmith, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice
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