In the wake of Queen Elizabeth’s death, Antigua and Barbuda’s prime minister calls for a referendum on becoming a republic
The prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda has pledged, if re-elected, to hold a referendum on becoming a republic and removing the British monarch as the Caribbean nation’s head of state.
Gaston Browne’s announcement came just two days after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, although the premier stressed that his proposal should not be considered “an act of hostility.”
Speaking to ITV on Saturday after a formal ceremony proclaiming the queen’s son, King Charles III, as the new monarch, Browne said the referendum would take place “within the next three years.”
The initiative “This does not mean that we disrespect the monarchy in any way” but reflects “Aspirations of a lifetime” of Antigua and Barbuda’s people, the prime minister explained.
While admitting that abolition of the monarchy is not a pressing issue on the islands and that “most people haven’t even bothered to think about it,” Browne claimed that it could be “a final step to complete the circle of independence to become a truly sovereign nation.”
Antigua & Barbuda is set to hold its next general election in 2019.
The British monarch serves as head of state in 14 countries, besides the UK – Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu. Barbados became a parliamentary republic last year after a referendum in parliament.
In the UK, the anti-monarchy group ‘Republic’ described the proclamation of the new King as “an affront to democracy” and called for a public debate on Britain’s “move to a democratic alternative to the hereditary monarchy.”
YouGov’s May Survey revealed that 62% Britons think the UK is a good place to live. “should continue to have a monarchy in the future,”This is a drop of 73% from ten years ago, and 22% believe that the country should elect a head of state. That’s up from 16% a decade earlier.