No republic status before Jamaica 60 celebrations

Minister of Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Marlene Malahoo Forte, QC, MP, JP
Minister of Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Marlene Malahoo Forte, QC, MP, JP (Photo credit: Jamaica Information Service)

Jamaica’s long-awaited republic status will not be achieved in time for the island’s 60th independence anniversary on 6 August 2022. This was the announcement made by Constitutional Affairs Minister, Marlene Malahoo Forte in a post-cabinet press briefing last Wednesday. “Unfortunately, the procedure settled in the constitution will not permit that timing to be met,” Malahoo Forte said.

When Barbados became a republic last year, calls intensified for Jamaica to follow suit, but the Minister clarified that unlike Barbados, Jamaica’s road to becoming a republic will be more difficult. Matters relating to  Queen Elizabeth 11 as head of state of Jamaica is a specially or deeply entrenched provision in the Constitution. Other specially entrenched provisions include the dissolution of Parliament, the holding of general elections, and so on. “There are differences between the two countries [Jamaica and Barbados]. They have different constitutional provisions and unlike Jamaica, they did not require a vote from the people to make that important change in their constitution,” she continued.



This public vote is called a referendum. Before a referendum can happen, amending a deeply or specially entrenched provisions also require a 2/3 vote of the members from each house, the Upper and Lower House. “Before a bill which seeks to amend the ordinarily or deeply entrenched provisions can go through, there is a requirement of a three-month period between the date when the bill is tabled on the House and the commencement of the debate. So, here we are now in April, and we have just commenced the sectoral presentation. Even if the bill were to be tabled, you’d have May, June [and] July before any debate put commence,” she explained.

She went on to say, further, that because the constitution is supreme in Jamaica, all procedures have to be carried out in accordance with it.

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