September 26, 2023

New PM wants to break ties

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Jamaica's Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller smiles after being sworn in at King's House in Kingston, Jamaica, Thursday Jan. 5, 2012. Simpson Miller was sworn in for the second time as Jamaica's prime minister, pledging to ease the island's deep poverty, boost the chronically sputtering economy, heal political divisions and sever colonial-era links with Britain. (AP Photo/Collin Reid)

Jamaica’s new prime minister has declared that “the time has come” for her country to break its ties to the monarchy.

In her inaugural address, Portia Simpson Miller, first paid tribute to the Queen: “I love the Queen. She is a beautiful lady, and apart from being a beautiful lady, a wise lady and a wonderful lady.”

Simpson Miller then stated, in her speech to a crowd of 10,000, that her administration would “initiate the process of detachment from the monarchy”, converting her country from a constitutional parliamentary democracy to a republic.

A member of the Commonwealth, Jamaica is on the royal itinerary this year marking the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, with Prince Harry scheduled to visit the Caribbean nation later this year.

It appears Miller’s plans for a republican form of government are aimed to coincide with this year’s 50th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence from Britain in 1962.

In the meantime, the Queen remains the head of state and is represented on the island by the governor general, Sir Patrick Allen.

Simpson Miller’s centre-left People’s National Party won a victory over the governing Labour Party in last week’s parliamentary elections, on a platform that included ditching the monarchy.

Her other orders of business include grappling with the country’s anemic economy, massive debt and a 13 per cent unemployment rate.

A government spokesman said Simpson Miller’s party would first seek an agreement with the opposition before moving ahead with the constitutional changes, which could be made through parliament without a referendum.

He said Simpson Miller hopes to have that deal in place by August, when Jamaica’s independence celebrations will be in full swing.

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