The Government has signaled that it intends to make good on its promise to sever colonial ties with Britain by bringing a Constitution amendment bill to Parliament to have the Queen of England, Elizabeth ll, replaced with a non-executive president as head of state.
This would do away with the governor general as the Queen’s representative here, and make Jamaica a republic. A non-executive president, like the governor general, would still be a symbolic leader and perform a representative and civic role but with no powers to make policy. But he or she could use discretionary powers for extraordinary political intervention, based on the Constitution.
Governor General Sir Patrick Allen, in the 2016/2017 Throne Speech to mark the opening of the new session of Parliament, announced the plan to move to republican status, while outlining a raft of other measures that are now on the legislative agenda.
The new administration appears set on doing what former Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller in her inauguration speech following her party’s victory in the 2011 general election, had proposed to do. Simpson Miller said then that as Jamaica celebrated its 50th anniversary of independence, the government would “initiate the process for our detachment from the Monarchy to become a republic with our own indigenous president as head of state.”
Also on top of the agenda is legislation for fixed election dates (local and general) and term limits for the prime minister. Sir Patrick announced, too, that a National Human Rights Institute is to be set up in law and the Office of the Public Defender “enhanced to incorporate the NHRI.”
The Government in 2014 started dialogue with the Commonwealth Secretariat to set up the body in compliance with a set of guiding standards adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993.
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