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Lloyd: Should The Bahamas become a republic?

Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd said yesterday that he believes there should be a discussion over whether The Bahamas become a republic.

“You know that’s something that has been discussed over and repeatedly: questions about whether The Bahamas should become a republic,” Lloyd told reporters outside Cabinet.

“And I think that’s something that the Bahamian people should have an opportunity to discuss.

“In [2002], the honorable late Paul Adderley conducted a constitutional question and headed a constitutional commission and I think that there was some appetite for a republic and I believe that that is something that should be put to the Bahamian people.

“I’d like to hear what the people have to say about it and whether that form of government best suits the aspirations of our people at this time.”

Last July, Minister of Transport and Local Government Renward Wells said The Bahamas should remove the queen as its head of state and move towards becoming a republic.

“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 at the time.

Two constitutional commissions — that raise the question of The Bahamas becoming a republic —have been formed in recent years.

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.

Attorney General Carl Bethel has said the Minnis administration has no intention to abolish the monarchy.

However, Lloyd said yesterday that a national discussion on the matter would be “absolutely” appropriate.

“…I believe it is necessary as we evolve as a people to have that discussion and determine how we want to govern ourselves,” he said.

“The question that some will ask, and this has also been proffered, that we have not maximized the potential of our parliamentary democracy as we have it now and we are considering another form of government.

“Why not look and see how we can utilize all of the benefits and opportunities and advantages that [are] now presently available to us that we have not yet taken advantage of.”

 

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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