Jamaican authorities will move forward with their plans to reshape their country's constitution by introducing a bill to sever ties with the British monarchy, Minister of Legal and Constitutional Affairs Marlene Malahoo Forte said in a press interview Thursday.
While the United Kingdom is celebrating the coronation of the King, that is for the United Kingdom, Malahoo Forte told Sky. Jamaica is looking to write a new constitution... which will sever ties with the monarch as our head of state.”
“My government is saying we have to do it now,” she continued, adding that for Jamaicans, it’s “time to say goodbye” to the British crown.
Malahoo Forte explained that her government will be introducing a bill aimed at making Jamaica a republic and that a referendum would give the Jamaican people the final say. A recent poll has found that majorities in almost half of British Commonwealth countries – including Jamaica – would vote to become republics if given the opportunity.
A British colony since 1655, Jamaica was granted independence in 1962. Jamaican political leaders at the time rejected republicanism in favor of becoming a Commonwealth realm with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state. Successive Jamaican governments have promised to replace the monarch with a president, but all have either been defeated by pro-Commonwealth opponents or left office before fulfilling their promise.
Although most Jamaicans now favor republicanism, many “had warm affection and identified with Queen Elizabeth II,” Malahoo Forte told Sky. But they do not identify with King Charles. He is as foreign as it gets to us. Plain and simple. Republicanism, Malahoo Forte said, “is about us saying goodbye to a form of government that is linked to a painful past of colonialism and the transatlantic slave trade.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister of Belize Johnny Briceno said his country would quite likely be the next to become a republic and added that his nation had no excitement” for King Charles III's coronation next Saturday.
The King faces increasing calls from representatives from 12 Commonwealth countries, including Australia, New Zealand, The Bahamas, and Canada to apologize for the Royal Family's ties in the slave trade.