Jamaica to become a republic

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Friday January 6, 2012 – Newly appointed Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has announced plans for the country to transition from a monarchy to a republic, removing Queen Elizabeth II as the Head of State as provided for in the Jamaica Constitution.

The decision to “initiate the process” of detachment comes as the country prepares to mark, in August, 50 years of Independence from Britain.

In a statement delivered after she took the oath of office yesterday to become the nation’s 7th Prime Minister, Simpson Miller said Jamaica “needs to complete the circle of independence” by having its “own indigenous president”.

Under the Jamaican Constitution, the Queen is represented by a Governor-General who appoints the Prime Minister.

Simpson Miller was sworn in to office a week after her People’s National Party (PNP) pulled off a dramatic 42-21 general election win over the Andrew Holness-led Jamaica Labour Party.

Stating that the country is entering a new phase, the prime minister pledged to deepen regional integration, including through the establishment of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in its final appellate jurisdiction.

“We must full repatriate our sovereignty”, she said, while urging support from the JLP.

“Let us, together, complete this aspect of regional integration within the life of this administration,” she stated.

Barbados, Guyana and Belize are the only Caricom states that allow the CCJ to function in its appellate jurisdiction, hearing appeals and making determinations in both civil and criminal matters from common law courts.

The CCJ was formed to replace the Privy Council as the region’s final court of appeal.

Further outlining her plans for the country, Simpson Miller said her administration intends to limit spending, tackle debt and boost employment as it moves to deal with the “awesome task ahead.”

“In the short and medium term, we will use state resources to stimulate employment through the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP).  We will do so in a transparent and non-partisan manner, to improve critical areas, such as the infrastructure and the environment, which support economic growth.

“Let me say emphatically to our business community, at home and overseas ‘we will pursue a tight fiscal policy, reduce our debt to GDP ratio, maintain the key macro-economic fundamentals, and be very careful and prudent in our debt management.’”

Simpson Miller, 66, this country’s first female prime minister initially served as head of government from 2006-07. She subsequently lost the 2007 general election to the JLP.

During yesterday’s ceremony she said she has been tested and tempered and is now a “stronger and better person.”

“In our political history, it is a very rare opportunity to be given a second chance to lead. It is also a sobering experience,” she stated. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)